OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – Last week, four people were gunned down in four days on the streets of Oakland, including a security guard sitting in his car alongside the Mandela Community Cabins homeless village, and ending with the killing of a 15-year-old girl near Church and Foothill Blvd.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said the volume of guns on the street has become intolerable.
"The number of firearms our officers are coming across every day is unbelievable," Armstrong said. "In 2019, we recovered 875 firearms. In the year 2020 and 2021, we have recovered over 1,200 firearms. Guns are plaguing our community, and in particular, ghost guns."
Untraceable, homemade "ghost guns" are becoming commonplace at crime scenes and Armstrong commended President Joe Biden for his effort to crack down on their manufacture.
Even as he played videos of brazen shootings caught on camera, the chief said the guns were just the tools being used. Armstrong blamed the mayhem on a message to criminals that anything goes, a message he says is being sent by the revolving door policies of the justice system.
"The judges in Alameda County have not been holding people accountable for committing violent crimes in the city of Oakland," said Armstrong. "Far too many people have been let out of custody after being caught with firearms. 'Zero Bail' has contributed to the increasing violent crime in Oakland. And it has to stop."
Chief Armstrong displayed a shocking graphic showing how many more homicides occur in Oakland than in neighboring jurisdictions. In 2021, OPD dealt with 132 homicides, the next highest was Oakland CHP with seven.
"Oakland far surpasses any city in Alameda County with the level of violence and death happening in this community," he said. "We cannot have to do this alone. Police can only do so much, at some point accountability has to happen."
The problem is only getting worse. This year, OPD has already recovered more than 400 guns, a 30 percent increase over this time last year. Armstrong said the quick release of those arrested for gun crimes is demoralizing to his officers and destroying the quality of life in Oakland.
And, he said, until that message changes, the city will continue to be caught in the crossfire.
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