Oakland City Council restores $10M in funds to police, fire departments amid spike in violence

The Oakland City Council voted unanimously Monday to allocate $10 million to restore vital community services for the fire and police departments, as the police chief called for more resources to be reallocated to the department.

The $10 million comes from a lawsuit the city won against the Golden State Warriors and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority after the team moved to San Francisco. The council said the money will fully restore Oakland’s Fire Department Services, restore Operation Ceasefire, walking foot patrol officers, expand ShotSpotter, and add community safety ambassadors in areas like Chinatown and the Fruitvale District, among other things.

The council also accepted federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The ARPA funds will be distributed in two allocations starting 2021 and after going through a public process and council vote.

Before the council meeting, Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong held a media conference where he made a plea to the public and the council to allocate some of the federal funds to help restore resources to his department.

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He said Oakland has seen an increase in violent crime in 2021 and the department is feeling the impacts of nearly $30 million in budget cuts made last year.

Armstrong said to date there have been:

  • 41 homicides compared 13 homicides at the same time last year (215% increase)
  • 159 shootings compared to 79 at the same time last year (101% increase)
  • 149 carjackings compared to 57 at the same time last year (161% increase)
  • 340 robberies compared to 226 at the same time last year (50% increase)

"This city has to value the lives of our community members," he said. "We need resources and we need the community's help to address violence. Police can't do it alone."

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The police department is also dealing with an increase in sideshows which have expanded to places not normally seen. On Sunday, a sideshow at 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue involved 100 cars and shots were fired.

"We have to make a choice…do we address violent crime or do we address sideshows, both of which are violent," Armstrong said. "We shouldn't have to do that. We should be given the resources we need to be able to address both."

The chief noted that a pregnant woman went into labor while caught in the middle of a sideshow over the weekend. He said units were called in to help rescue her. He said the department’s sideshow detail budget was cut and officers were taxed with having investigate three homicides that happened on Saturday.

"It's unacceptable for this level of violence and there not be a response from the city of reallocating resources to address violent crime," he said.

Armstrong said he was appreciative of the council's vote and that it was an initial step to help address the city's increase in violent crime. 

Prior to the council’s vote, District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife responded to KTVU’s request for comment with the following statement:

"I believe that we can more affordably address the issues that some residents are concerned about without ushering human beings into the prison industrial complex. 

I want to make it clear that there was no real coordination between the Mayor, City Administration and OPD around budget cuts made in December. My colleagues and I plan to be more transparent and thoughtful in our approach."

Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan also responded to the chief’s calls for funding with the following statement:

"I strongly oppose the mayor's devastating cuts to programs dealing with gun violence. I am currently in a City Council meeting where the Oakland City Council will be voting on budget amendments. Included in the amendments is the full restoration of programs like Operation Ceasefire, as well as the expansion of initiatives such as ShotSpotter, both of which help reduce gun violence."