Oakland police say pandemic is no excuse to stop trying to curb gun violence

Oakland police are working to curb gun violence in the city with its Ceasefire program. 

Ceasefire is a data-driven strategy that police say has found a very small percentage of Oakland's population is responsible for the majority of gun violence in the city.

Ceasefire brings together OPD with other law enforcement partners and community groups to reach out to those impacted and at high risk of gun violence.

During the pandemic – resources have been stretched thin.

But Capt. Roland Holmgren said they are working to make the community safer – and get guns off the street.

"I  can see that communities, I can see that families you know I can see that they are hurting from the amount of gunfire that is being discharged in their communities and that’s what pushes not just our units but this entire department to try and make an impact on it," Holmgren said Wednesday. 

OPD is using data to focus on who is responsible for this sort of violence in Oakland. 

They also look at who is at the highest risk of being shot or killed. 

Now, every three days a life is lost in a homicide and most of those are shootings, police said.

Homicides are up 181 percent to 45 so far this year from 16 at this time last year, police said. 

On Wednesday, Captain T. Jones said the pandemic is no excuse to slow down on efforts to end this activity.

He called Ceasefire an effective strategy that has worked in the past.

"We can’t just wave the white flag because we’re in the middle of a pandemic," Jones said. "A bunch of things aren’t available to us that use to be. We have to keep fighting, keep working with the community until we get it under control. And I really believe at some point in the near future we will."

Officers in the violence crimes operations centers are working to get guns off the street including high-powered ghost guns, which can be assembled at home.

They have no serial numbers and can’t be traced – which causes all sorts of challenges when they are used in crimes.

Police are working with the ATF to find out how these high-powered weapons are making their way to Oakland streets.

"It is really bad now," Jones said. There’s a lot of firearms on the streets, the type of weaponry we’re seeing is unlike any time I’ve experienced since I’ve been here in 26 years."