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Phil Matier: Oakland Crime Rate Soaring As City Loses Officers

OAKLAND (KCBS) – Burglaries are up a startling 43 percent in Oakland this year compared to last, part of an ever-growing crime problem in the city.

According to the latest numbers from the Oakland Police Department, more than 11,000 homes, cars or businesses have been broken into so far this year – translating to about 33 burglaries a day. The most popular targets have been cars with more than 5,700 burglarized so far this year.

KCBS, CBS 5 and SF Chronicle Insider Phil Matier:

One of the most likely reasons for the sharp uptick in crime – city officials said they believe it's the gradual loss of police officers from the force.

The city could be down to a little more than 600 officers by February, which would be 200 fewer than in 2008. Even with another 40 expected to graduate from Police Academy, they will be rookies and there is already talk of trying to contract with outside agencies for support.

Police Chief Howard Jordan said his department is trying to reassess its crime prevention efforts in light of the staff shortages.

"The fact that we haven't been able to address some of the proactive things that we should be doing as an agency is really hampering our efforts to address some of the crime problems," he said. "But with that being said, what I've been tasked to do and asked my commanders to do is look at some of the ways for us to free up officers in order to give them time to be proactive. I'm also reducing some of the positions in certain administrative functions in the department so that we can add more staff to our street level enforcement teams."

Interview with Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan:

"There's just people that are taking matters into their own hands and resolving their issues through violence. I think the proliferation and easy availability of firearms in this city is something that is a real problem for us," Jordan said. "Coupled with the fact that there is all-out greed and disrespect for each other and each other's personal safety between young people."

You can hear Phil Matier's comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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