For Immediate Release December 31, 2021
OPD Addresses a Challenging Year in Crime, With Year-End Data
Like most cities and departments across the nation, the City of Oakland, and the Oakland Police Department (OPD) navigated through an unprecedented pandemic. As new strains of the Coronavirus continued to emerge and impact our Country, Oakland saw an eight percent increase in both, the violent crime index and overall crime.
In 2020, the United States saw a 30% increase in homicides over the previous year, representing the largest single-year increase ever recorded in the country. That trend seemed to continue into 2021, as major cities across America are experiencing record numbers of homicides.
This year, OPD investigated 134 homicides, the most since 2012. Further, Oakland experienced a 21% increase in shooting incidents. Many of the homicides and shootings involved gang and group members and conflicts. As the homicides increased, Chief LeRonne L. Armstrong recognized the need to reassign six additional investigators to work in the homicide section. The additional investigators allowed the department to solve more cases and increase the homicide clearance rate from 33% in October to 47% at year’s end. In 2021, OPD arrested nearly 60 homicide suspects, supporting the department’s message, that OPD will make every effort to bring those responsible for these crimes to justice.
OPD remains focused on proven violent crime prevention strategies such as Ceasefire to address gun violence. However, the two-year pandemic has impacted the department’s ability to practice the Ceasefire strategy in its fullest form, resulting in the reduced number of outreach opportunities for those at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence.
Still, OPD relies on intelligence-led policing. The department’s Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC), and the Violent Crime Operations Center (VCOC), created this year by Chief Armstrong, leads our focused enforcement and apprehension efforts. Collectively, OPD is on track to recover over 1200 firearms this year, more than three firearms a day.
Although OPD saw an increase in robbery and burglary investigations, 12% and 16% respectively, those statistics are well below our year-end numbers in 2019, prior to the pandemic. OPD will continue to work with other law enforcement partners to reduce violence and solve crimes.
In his first year, Chief Armstrong created two initiatives, to develop stronger ties with our residents and businesses. First, Chief Armstrong held a rally and march for community members called, “Stand Up for a Safe Oakland.” The event brought Oaklanders, the Department of Violence Prevention, and other City leaders together with one goal of making Oakland safer for all. Second, Chief Armstrong held “Conversations Towards Solutions” where he visited nearly all 35 policing beats citywide, as well as community group gatherings throughout Oakland.
The meetings were held both in-person and virtually, to hear directly from those most impacted by crime. The investment proved to be successful. Numerous community members assisted with investigations by sharing information and video. Their efforts helped solve crimes and increased partnership between OPD and the community.
In January, to address the disproportionate number of calls for service and violent crime in East Oakland, Chief Armstrong will reallocate 48 officers to Bureau of Field Operations East, with the implementation of a six-area patrol plan. This plan will deploy much-needed resources to a part of our community that experiences the majority of violent crime and priority calls for service. This deployment reinforces our commitment to responding to community calls for help.
Despite the staffing challenges experienced throughout the year, the members of the Oakland Police Department continued to demonstrate their commitment and sacrifice for the community.
Public service and safety are in the highest tradition of the Oakland Police Department, which we will continue to demonstrate each day. With continued support from community members, City leaders, and Oakland Police Commission, we look forward to a unified effort in making Oakland a safe city.