Oakland city council members respond to police chief's criticism after violent weekend

Oakland city council members said there is a special meeting scheduled for December 7 to discuss the violence.
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland's police chief is calling on city leaders to act after an extremely violent weekend. He says they dealt with "roving robbery caravans" like many other cities, but also shootings and sideshows.

"I'm asking council members to step up!"

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong spoke out Monday after a weekend that not only included what he is calling "roving robbery caravans" targeting retail stores, pharmacies and dispensaries, but also shootings and sideshows that have been seen for much of the year.

"I need help from the leaders of this city. Amidst 124 homicides, there hasn't been one call for an emergency meeting to discuss gun violence in the city of Oakland," said Chief Armstrong.

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City council members were quick to respond Monday night, saying that there is a special meeting scheduled for December 7 to discuss the violence. They also said that the violence seen is a major concern of theirs.

"Absolutely we are all concerned and I can attest to that from all councilmembers including the mayor as well, too," said councilmember Sheng Thao.

Thao, along with council member Dan Kalb, are in support of getting the Ceasefire program back to where it was pre-pandemic.

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Council member Rebecca Kaplan says the council has repeatedly pushed for more focus on gun violence and passed items to increase funding for tracing and cracking down on illegal guns.

They also say funding has been doubled for violence prevention measures like adding more violence interrupters.

"People think when we say violence prevention it's all long-term, it's all years down the road, well some of it is and some of it can happen really quickly, including those interrupters," says Kalb.

Oakland's police department was stretched thin this past weekend. The chief says they responded to more than two dozen major crimes in a 10-hour period Saturday. ABC7 News insider Phil Matier says Chief Armstrong's words Monday were bold.

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"I can't remember the last time a police chief just said to City Hall you don't care. That's what he was saying, crime was going up, we have problems, and we have yet to have one emergency meeting which is right on your doorstep the biggest problem we've had," says Matier.

"As a council, we have not stepped up," said councilmember Loren Taylor Monday. Taylor would like to see police given more resources. Thao and Kalb say filling open positions is key for the department.

"We have 737 funded positions and we only have 680 officers," said Thao.

"The police chief has the authority to hire officers laterally, who are already officers in other departments, within the budget which he has available to him to fill some of the gaps, it's not easy to do that, but he has the authority to do that," says Kalb.

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