Oakland police chief blames violent crime on lenient courts

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said some violent crime is due in part to leniency from the courts.

He said he's working with judges and the Alameda County district attorney to try to prevent criminals from re-offending.

But he and a crime victim told KTVU it's disheartening that too often, criminals are released quickly after their arrests.

The police shared audio of gunshots fired on 85th Avenue in East Oakland last September that was recorded by ShotSpotter technology.

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Police said the shots were fired by a parolee who is prohibited from having a gun.

He had served time for involuntary manslaughter, yet he was released just days after firing 70 shots, injuring one person.

"We are impacted the greatest of any city in Alameda County when it comes to people being released back into our community on bail to commit crimes again," said Armstrong.

He blames the increase in violence largely on the existing emergency bail schedule implemented during the pandemic to reduce the jail population.

He said the current system is allowing criminals to be back on the streets soon after being arrested.

Armstrong said he's joined by the mayor and the district attorney in asking Alameda County judges to bring back the old bail system which he said holds criminals accountable.

"The scales of justice is imbalanced," said Chief Armstrong.

The Alameda County District Attorney's Office pointed to the Twin Peaks robbery of a film crew in San Francisco by four men.

Some suspects had prior felony convictions and were on parole or probation.  

Three of the suspects have been arrested in Oakland for an armed robbery committed just three days after the one in San Francisco. 

"This is probably the worse I've ever seen and I've been here since '86," said Bruce Vuong a business and homeowner in Oakland.

He said he's been robbed at gunpoint and his home burglarized.

He shared surveillance video of catalytic converter thefts in broad daylight near his shop just a few months ago.

One of his own vehicles was also targeted by a thief.

"Four months ago, I backed into my building early in the morning. Two guys stormed into my yard. Luckily, I asked them to leave nicely," Vuong said the men backed away because he had a gun. "I knew if I wasn't prepared myself, I'd be robbed."

Vuong said he's noticed that crime has dramatically increased during the past year and a half. He now closes his business earlier for safety.

"We have been so focused on trying to provide support and resources for those who have committed crimes that we've lost sight of those who have been victimized," said Armstrong.

Armstrong said he's met with judges and they've promised to review changes in the bail system but that the changes are not coming quickly enough.