'Cars shot up, homes shot up:' Oakland police chief laments violence in his city

Chief LeRonne Armstrong claims this increase in violence has a lot to do with having a smaller force, just 681 sworn officers.
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong sat down with ABC7 News Wednesday to discuss violence in his city.

He spoke with reporter Laura Anthony to talk about the unprecedented firepower on the streets, and why he thinks his shrinking force can't fix the problem, on its own.

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With 120 homicides and more than 500 shootings in his city, Chief Armstrong says behind the numbers, is an alarming escalation in firepower.

"Cars shot up, homes shot up. This is real life," said Armstrong. "We had a shooting last week where we had nearly 200 rounds fired. That is unacceptable."

Sunday night, a mother and her 11-year-old daughter were shot in their home.

Eleven days ago, a boy not even two-years-old, was killed by a stray bullet while riding in the family car on Interstate 880 in Oakland.

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"I think it's been a wakeup call for all of us," said Armstrong, "that firing guns into communities can cause so much damage to families, but also to communities, because community is hurting as well."

Oakland police have also seized a large number of firearms, more than 1,000 so far this year, already surpassing all of last year.

"While we continue to recover guns daily, more guns continue to enter our community," said Armstrong.

Currently, only about one-third of Oakland homicide cases result in an arrest and charges. Armstrong claims that has a lot to do with having a smaller force, 681 sworn officers.

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"We have the same number of investigators in our homicide division, but we're having almost double the number of homicides that we had in 2019," said Armstrong.

Armstrong expects his force will shrink further as city leaders direct resources away from traditional policing.

"We are essentially being more responsive than we would like. We would like to be more proactive. We really need to get into more proactive patrols," explained Armstrong. "I think it is about our ability to regain trust in our community, so they don't believe having less police makes them safer."

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