Oakland police bring back old strategy: foot patrols in commercial districts

The city of Oakland has brought back a policing strategy that it has not used in years: foot patrols in commercial districts. 

A spokesperson for the city said it was first brought back in February. 

On Sept. 16, the department expanded the unit by adding 12 officers and two sergeants and increasing the coverage area to 14 commercial areas citywide.  

On Thursday, police foot patrols were back in the Lakeshore Business District for the first time in years.

"It's just been a mess lately. We see the car break-ins from our office, brazen, right out in the middle of the street," said Brian Pepperell, a dental hygienist with Lakeshore Family Dentistry. "I'm really happy to see these officers here.  It's going to hopefully bring businesses back to Lakeshore."  

The officers went door to door giving out their business cards with cell phone numbers, introducing themselves  and their mission to merchants.  

"It gives the businesses in the area a personal contact, a personal police officer they can speak to," Oakland Police Officer Mike Cooper.

The foot patrol officers asked business owners and workers if they see anything suspicious to tell the officers so they'll broadcast that suspicious picture to other officers in the area.  

Dima Hart, owner of Silver Moon Kids said she's been waiting for foot patrols. 

She said she's lost business due to customers getting robbed or their cars burglarized. 

She asked if there will be officers on her block every day. 

Police said there will be foot patrol officers several times a week, patrolling multiple commercial zones during their shift.  

"We are spread thin but we're working and we're trying to grow," said Oakland Police Officer Daniel Kemmitt. "It's about relationships, bonding with the community. We're not going to be rushed like the normal beat officer going from call to call for service."  

Soroush Ghaderi, owner of Shakewell Restaurant, said foot patrols are a good first step but that it'll take more than police to prevent and stop crime.

"We also need to follow through with any arrest that we make. There has to be some kind of punishment for the crimes. If the DA doesn't want to prosecute, then whatever the police do is for nothing."

Ghaderi said his restaurant, Mama's Royal Cafe in the Temescal district, has been burglarized twice.  

"If there is a visible police, there's probably a likelihood there will be less crime. However, the criminals are smart. They'll do something on another street. If the police go over there, they'll commit a crime on this street," said Ghaderi.  

Police officials said they hope to add even more officers to the foot patrol program. 

They say it's being funded by a federal grant from the Department of Justice that's scheduled to last through fiscal year 2026.

Amber Lee is a reporter with KTVU.  Email Amber at Amber.Lee@Fox.com or text/leave message at 510-599-3922. Follow her on Facebook @AmberKTVU,  Instagram @AmberKTVU  or Twitter @AmberKTVU.