Oakland loses California Highway Patrol cops amid crime surge

California Highway Patrol Officer Rick Baller stands next to his car as he guards the closed toll plaza leading to the San Francisco Bay Bridge Oct. 28, 2009, in Oakland, Calif. Getty Images

OAKLAND, Calif. The Oakland Police Department is about to lose some precious backup Thursday, CBS San Francisco station KPIX-TV reports.

The California Highway Patrol decided to wrap up "Operation Impact," a 90-day crime suppression program that had CHP officers assisting Oakland officers since Nov. 1.

"Operation Impact ends January 31st," Fran Clader, a CHP spokesperson based in Sacramento told KPIX-TV.

As CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reported last week, Oakland has a long history of crime linked to drugs, gangs, and poverty, but on a single day this month four people were shot dead within six hours. Last year there were 117 gun deaths in Oakland - 14 since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

"It's too many guns on the streets," Vice Mayor Larry Reid, when asked to diagnose the problem in Oakland, told Blackstone. "(They're) in the hands of young people that aren't afraid to take your life or my life."

Reid also blames budget cuts, which have reduced the police force from 800 officers to 600.

The CHP has assisted Oakland Police for many years, and usually the assistance is funded with state grants from the California Gang Reduction, Intervention and Prevention Grant Program, known as CalGRIP.

But Operation Impact was a special deployment, directly promised by Gov. Jerry Brown last fall.

"This last 90-day period came directly from the CHP's budget," said Sam Morgan, a CHP spokesman based in Oakland who said the highway patrol could no longer afford to assist the city free of charge.

The CHP's decision comes just days after Oakland approved a $250,000 contract to bring Alameda County sheriff's deputies in to assist police. Morgan said the timing is just a coincidence and that the CHP's decision was solely based on budget constraints.

"CHP, like any other organization, has a budget that it has to operate within," Morgan said. "And so it would be imprudent for any agency to expect members of any police department to come in and provide police services without those services being reimbursed to the agency."

City and police staffers are preparing a contract that, a source said, would pay CHP more than $250,000 to stay on.

City Councilman Noel Gallo said he will make a direct appeal to Brown.

"He lives here, and he knows the issue in Oakland," Gallo said. "So playing this game with the highway patrol - do I pay for them or not? - is really shortsighted on his part."

Mayor Jean Quan expressed gratitude to the CHP and wants them to stay.

"The CHP reacted quickly to our need, offered a vital presence on our streets and delivered results in some of our neighborhoods most impacted by crime. This assistance came in a time of need, and this need still exists," she said.

Quan said she is scheduling a meeting with the CHP commissioner to try and stave off the payment to CHP.

"We're hopeful that state grants can be used to help cover some of these patrol costs going forward," she said.

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