Oakland police union blames increase in violence on city council's 'defund strategy'

It's a claim firmly rejected by several members of the Oakland City Council, who call it a 'ridiculous exaggeration.'

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Oakland violence: Police union blames council's 'defund strategy'
The president of the Oakland Police Officers Association says the city council is to blame for policing problems and violent crimes.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The issue of policing is once again front and center in Oakland. Barry Donelan, the president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, says the problem is out of control.

"City leaders are vilifying and demonizing them at every turn. The defund strategy by the majority of city council has brought us this violent crime," he said.

RELATED: Some Oakland officials worry about timing of police budget cuts amid spike in crime

Donelan says police don't have the resources to keep up with the crime surge.

The department is currently losing about 10 offices a month.

"We're at 694 today. Lowest we've been in seven years, yet the highest violent crime in a decade."

VIDEO: Oakland PD staffing at a 10-year low

"It's been a very challenging weekend for the Oakland Police Department and the community," the police chief said. "So much violence, so many guns, so many senseless lives lost."

Donelan believes officers are leaving largely because of city leaders' actions.

It's a claim firmly rejected by several members of the Oakland City Council.

"That's a ridiculous exaggeration," Councilman Dan Kalb said. "Most people who leave the police force are retiring because they're now at retirement age."

Councilmember Noel Gallo told ABC7 the council did vote 6-2 on Tuesday to add a new police academy this fiscal year to help address the problem.

WATCH: Mayor Libby Schaaf says Oakland needs more officers as city grapples with 'heartbreaking' homicide rate

"This is not just 100 lives lost, this is 100 groups of children that don't have a loved one, a mentor, a mom or dad, an aunt or uncle," Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said today.

However, they want to make sure, it comes with some fundamental changes.

"How do I screen, where do I recruit? How long do I maintain the officers?" Gallo questioned.

Because if there's one thing everyone can agree on, it's that the violence needs to stop.