Crime Rates Remain High But Are Falling, Says OPD



Highlighting trends that show a decrease in crime since the beginning of the year, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) released a report this week at the city’s Public Safety Committee, highlighting its efforts to implement the Ceasefire program, criminal investigation division and other crime reduction strategies.

< p>< p>The new 2014 report – which covered citywide crime through March 9 of this year – cited a 15 percent decrease in crime including murders, assault with a firearm, rape, robberies and burglaries.

The report also focused on area crime trends that, for the most part, showed a decrease in the number of assaults with a firearm.

However, according to a recent evaluation conducted by Resource Development Associates and UC Berkeley School of Law, “Violent crime in Oakland has remained consistently high over the past 25 years.”

As of April 7, the total number of murders reported at 24, compared to 23 murders during the same period last year.

Aggravated assault was reported at 790 versus 892 last year. Burglaries fell to 2,828 versus 3,261 last year. The numbers of robberies showed a sharp decline of 35 percent, dropping to 846 versus 1,323 last year.

Area Captains give credit to impact of community input on identifying and arresting crime suspects. They said they are focusing on rescuing underage victims of human trafficking, expressing a need for social services and counseling for the young victims.

“We surround them with services, talk to them, try to break the cycle and basically gain their trust, especially the teenagers,” said Officer Ricardo Orozco at Tuesday’s meeting. He is captain of Area, which includes International Boulevard and Central Oakland.

“It’s tough because their whole lives have been where they’ve grown up in battered environments. We try to get them to see that there is more out there. We work closely with … social service agencies … to talk to the women first before [we] do,” Orozco said.

Reports of prostitution have increased 134 percent as of April 7, with numbers at 152 versus 65 last year. At present most of these arrests have primarily been of prostitutes, not pimps or johns.

Although the department was praised for its implementation of Ceasefire, neighborhood patrolling, and community engagement, Police Chief Sean Whent pointed out that there is still much work to do.

“We look at these numbers to help us gauge if strategies that we’re using are working,” said Chief Whent, “but at the end of the day, there are real people behind every one of these [numbers.] We understand that.”

“We recognize there is a lot of work to do and we absolutely are committed to making this a safe city,” he said.


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