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California sending state attorneys to Oakland, Alameda County to help prosecute violent crime, retail theft, auto burglaries

Oakland mayor welcomes state attorneys to aid in crime crackdown
Oakland mayor welcomes state attorneys to aid in crime crackdown 02:46

California is deploying state attorneys to Alameda County to prosecute suspects arrested for violent crimes, serious drug-related crimes, and retail theft and auto burglaries in Oakland and other cities.

Governor Gavin Newsom and Attorney General Rob Bonta announced they are launching a partnership with Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price to have deputy attorneys general from the California Department of Justice and attorneys from the California National Guard to help prosecute the crimes.

"An arrest isn't enough. Justice demands that suspects are appropriately prosecuted," said Newsom in a prepared statement. "Whether it's 'bipping' or carjacking, attempted murder or fentanyl trafficking, individuals must be held accountable for their crimes using the full and appropriate weight of the law."  

The announcement comes two days after the governor deployed 120 California Highway Patrol officers to help combat crime in Oakland and the East Bay. The temporary deployment of additional CHP officers will work in partnership with the Oakland Police Department and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office in "a targeted crackdown on criminal activity, including vehicle theft, retail theft, and violent crime."

"The East Bay is my home, and I'm committed to ensuring that the people of Oakland can live and work in a safe community," said Bonta in a prepared statement. "The California Department of Justice has legal and law enforcement expertise to bring to bear as we work collaboratively to hold bad actors accountable. I welcome this partnership with local and state law enforcement, the Governor's Office, and most importantly, the Oakland community, to ensure that justice is done so that Oakland residents can thrive and prosper." 

"This new partnership signals that state and county law enforcement are seizing the moment to work together in aggressively prosecuting people who do harm to folks who live, work, and play in Alameda County," said District Attorney Pamela Price in a separate statement. "Prosecutors in my office are leading that fight every day here locally in Alameda County, and we welcome the assistance offered by Governor Newsom and AG Rob Bonta to increase our capacity to prosecute any additional cases generated by the increased presence of CHP officers in Oakland and Alameda County."  

In August 2023, CHP officers were also deployed to Oakland to help combat a string of high-profile carjackings and other armed robberies. Newsom also deployed CHP and National Guard personnel in San Francisco last October to fight the fentanyl trafficking crisis.

According to the governor's office, crime in Oakland is rising compared to other metro areas in the state. Preliminary reports from Oakland indicate that in 2023, violent crime rose 21%, robbery increased 38%, and vehicle theft increased 45% while data from across the state shows such crimes are down in many other jurisdictions, including San Francisco.

The announcement was welcomed by Oakland activist Brenda Grisham.  

Losing a child is the kind of pain no parent would ever wish upon another. That is the very pain that Grisham channels into her passionate advocacy work.

When she heard the news of Governor Newsom sending in additional state prosecutors to help process crime in the in the East Bay, she had one word.

"Amen! It's about time for someone to step in. We had been reaching out to get some help with what's going on here in Oakland," she said.

Grisham, who has been working to recall Price, expressed concerns things may not change if the state attorneys follow Price's current policies.

"It really depends on what guidelines they're going to go under. If they come in and go under the directives of the current DA's administration, that's not really gonna do us any good. If they're going to be working independently, that would be great," Grisham explained.

According to Price, the attorneys will be following the same charging policies. Despite that, Grisham expressed faith in the new attorneys coming in.

"These are experienced deputy district attorneys. They come predominantly from SoCal, but they're very experienced," she said. "They've been doing this work now for a period of time."

As she works to keep her son's memory alive, Grisham believes more just crime prosecution will not only help Oakland, but it would also bring justice to her son's legacy.

"I think he would be very excited about what's about to happen. Justice for families," she said. "And a different outlook for the city he was born in and lost his life in."

And a hopeful step towards change in her community.

Loureen Ayyoub contributed to this story.

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