OAKLAND, Calif. - Oakland police are adding a new police district to serve East Oakland to increase safety there, Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Sixty percent of calls for service are coming from East Oakland so Armstrong is creating the sixth district, he said at the news conference from the police substation in East Oakland at 2651 73rd Ave.
The change will bring more than 40 more officers into East Oakland to patrol there full-time starting Jan. 22.
"It is significant because it means that the department has recognized the impact of the calls for service, the emergency calls, that are coming in from our East Oakland residents and the need for more presence in our community," Armstrong said.
East Oakland currently has two police districts -- the new one will be a third serving the area. The city had the same configuration about 15 years ago.
Armstrong said city councilmembers have been asking for the chief to disperse resources in East Oakland.
Presently, 240 officers are patrolling the area. That number will jump to almost 300. The officers coming to East Oakland have been in the patrol division, just assigned to other units, Armstrong said. They were supporting patrol officers.
"There will not be less safety in other parts of our city," Armstrong said.
The move to six districts means officers will be distributed more equally across the city, Armstrong said.
Violent crime is up across the city, police said. Shootings are up 20 percent over last year and 40 percent over two years ago, the chief said. Homicides are up 22 percent from last year, according to police data.
The Oakland Police Officers' Association, the union representing Oakland police officers, criticized the change, saying it is not really treating the problem, which is the need for more officers.
"The redeployment announced today is but a band-aid to stop the bleeding until the Oakland's City Council embraces the reality that the city needs a minimum of 1,000 police officers," Oakland Police Officers' Association President Barry Donelan said in a statement.