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Oakland Police Chief Announces Restructuring Plan As Homicides Reach 15-Year High

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – The Oakland Police Department is putting additional resources into East Oakland as the city continues to grapple with a rise in gun violence and homicides in that area.

Part of the restructuring plan means one more police district will be dedicated to East Oakland. The plan would bring in dozens of additional officers next year, as the department tries to address the growing violence.

The streets of East Oakland will soon have 48 more officers patrolling a part of the city that accounts for a disproportionate number of 911 calls made.

"Now our call volume has increased dramatically and it means that I actually have to shift resources," Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a briefing on Monday.

The 133 homicides this year is the highest tally since 2006.

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Armstrong believes redeployment will help address the dire situation, and that 15 years ago, when the city faced similar numbers related to violent crime, the department implemented a similar shift.

"The department has recognized the impact of the calls for service and emergency calls that are coming in from our East Oakland residents and the need for more presence in our community," said Armstrong.

Starting in January, police areas 4, 5, and 6 will be in East Oakland.

Right now there are five police districts across the city.

Police said about 60% of all calls for help come from this district.

"You see the consistent pattern of inequity that has occurred relative to responses and calls outstanding. It was something that clearly needed to be addressed," said District 7 Oakland City Council Member Loren Taylor.

Taylor, who represents a part of East Oakland, has been pushing to greenlight budget changes that would allow police to hire more officers.

"We are now distributing resources based on call volume. The higher percentage of calls and part 1 crimes that are occurring in this part of the city is something that should be in place and should be institutionalized," Taylor told KPIX 5.

Part of the plan requires smaller squads and shortened beats, while shifting resources from tactical teams into needed areas.

"There will not be less safety in other parts of our city. This is just to make sure that our resources are distributed as well as the calls that coming in equally," said Armstrong.

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