OAKLAND, Calif. - For the first time in two years, Oakland police will soon be walking the streets in busy shopping districts.
Mayor Sheng Thao and Acting Police Chief Darren Allison made the announcement at a news conference at the Waterfront Hotel in Jack London Square.
"This is not a new problem, we know that, but it is a challenge," Thao said. "We are committed to a safe Oakland for every person who lives here, who works here and who visits and play here in the city of Oakland."
Allison said, "Starting next week, you will see a return of our walking officers to our neighborhood and business shopping districts."
Allison said the department is using a $1.8 million federal grant, and matching funds to have a sergeant and six officers on foot patrol. But they won't be everywhere all at once.
"Our goal is not just downtown and uptown into Rockridge and Montclair, but certainly around the lake, Fruitvale," Allison said.
The goal, police say, is to find ways business owners less vulnerable.
"Through our walking officers, we'll collaborate with our business district ambassadors as well as provide security assessments to our businesses using crime prevention through environmental design," Allison said.
Local business leaders say they're grateful for any added patrols.
"When people feel safe, they'll come out and shop, employees will come back to work, merchants will be active and vibrant," said Savlan Hauser," executive director of the Jack London Improvement District.
Diego Nazzal owns Custom Sofa Co. on Grand Avenue, which suffered a burglary earlier this month.
"That's help. It's a step in the right direction," Nazzal said. He said of the break-in, "That was painful. And just to feel violated and have to go through all our stuff and see if anything got taken and yeah..it's not a good feeling."