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Tipsheet

Oakland Mayor Fails to Acknowledge One Key Point in Responding to Criticism Over Rising Crime

AP Photo/Ben Margot

In addressing criticism over Oakland’s “uptick in crime,” Mayor Sheng Thao noted that the problem "is not unique" to the city. What is different, however, is that there has been a double digit increase in both robberies and carjackings from a year ago, though homicide rates are down. 

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The situation has gotten so bad the local NAACP chapter recently called on the city to declare a state of emergency, which Thao laughingly dismissed in a press conference. 

"A state of emergency? I am the mayor of Oakland. This is why I was able to call the governor directly, and this now why we have the resources of [California Highway Patrol] here in the city of Oakland," Thao said.  

She said Oakland is investing in violence prevention programs and is embracing a “whole-city type of partnership” to address crime.  

She says the CHP has been successfully working in areas along the freeways and in some high crime areas. And she points out that Oakland currently has the highest number of police officers in uniform over the past three years. In addition, she says they are working on ways to increase the police department's capabilities to investigate.

"To actually catch the perpetrators, that means we have to have to the manpower for that," explains Mayor Thao. "We are talking about how do we free up our officers, whether it's civilianizing some positions, so we can get more officers doing investigative work."

But there remains one key vacancy: chief of police. Mayor Thao fired Chief LeRonne Armstrong in Feb. for allegedly failing to discipline officers for misconduct. She says the process to hire a new chief begins with the police commission.

"Their job is to actually go through the hiring process, and they are to refer three top candidates to my office. To this day, I have not yet received those referrals," says Thao. (ABC 7)

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While Thao has previously warned criminals that they "will be caught," critics highlighted what she didn't say. 

The Oakland NAACP's letter to city officials emphasized this point. 

"Failed leadership, including the movement to defund the police, our District Attorney’s unwillingness to charge and prosecute people who murder and commit life-threatening serious crimes, and the proliferation of anti-police rhetoric have created a heyday for Oakland criminals," the letter said. 

Referring to their letter, Thao said Tuesday she "would love to hear what their solutions are instead of just attacks."

She went on to claim residents will begin to "see real results" in the near future. 

“My team has been working day and night to really find the real solutions so that we can implement and see real results,” she said. “That doesn’t happen overnight, unfortunately. But I promise you that you will start seeing some of those results as we move forward towards next year.”

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