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Oakland Records Plague of Homicides, Violent Crime in 2021

OAKLAND (KPIX) -- Oakland saw a dramatic rise in violence in 2021. The police department reported shootings, assaults, robberies and burglaries all went up compared to 2020. The city finished the year with the highest homicides in 15 years: 134 killings compared to 148 killings in 2006.

The Oakland police department releases crime data on its website weekly. As of December 26, the neighborhoods north of Lake Merritt, which include Rockridge, Temescal, Montclair and parts of the Oakland Hills, saw 12 fatalities and 46 shootings which resulted in injuries. Some of the shootings had multiple victims.

In the areas west of the lake which include downtown and West Oakland, 17 people were slain and at least 83 shootings resulted in injuries.

East Oakland remains the most dangerous part of town. It recorded 105 homicides and 448 injury shootings.

The department reports that officers responded to 3,320 shootings across the city but what's even more important than all the numbers is how people feel. Many people said they don't feel safe in Oakland.

Why the increase in violence?

Police officers said they saw a lot more guns in the streets. Some people blamed the early release of inmates. They also pointed to bail reform: releasing violent suspects on no-cash bail.

To turn things around, Oakland is funding more police academies to fill vacancies. The police department has budgeted for 737 positions but they're down to 692 officers.

The city is also investing more money on Operation Ceasefire, an intervention program that provides high-risk individuals jobs and other alternatives to gun violence.

And, in three weeks, the department will shift 48 officers to patrol in deep East Oakland, where most of the shootings happen.

The hope is that 2022 will be a much safer year.

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