Oakland's police chief paints a bleak picture for his department's resources

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong addressed the recent surge in violence and how he's managing with dwindling resources and staffing.

He said the department needs the community's help in its ongoing battle to find ways to solve crime and keep the public safe.

Armstrong said the staffing shortage will get worse next year.

But some Oakland residents questioned whether public safety will improve with more police officers.

Still, Oaklanders said the recent surge in violence brings caution and situational awareness.

"At night, I take my dog around and I chose a lighted area. I would not walk in a place where it's dark," said Yuki Watanabe, an Oakland resident.

"I always stay alert. No matter what city you live, , you're going to have to deal with some stuff," said Khadim Wajne, who also lives in Oakland.

Police released audio of gunfire recorded on shot-spotter from Tuesday in East Oakland, a common occurrence. 

Armstrong said, "Shootings where over 100 rounds are being fired that is impacting our community and causing fear."  

Fortunately, no one was injured from the  gunfire captured by the shot-spotter system.

But Oakland has already surpassed last year's total number of homicides with 120 so far.

There were 102 homicides for all of last year.

"We're not able to do everything we could in order to impact safety," Armstrong said.

There are 681 sworn officers on the force and that the rate of solved cases has dropped to 35% down from 50%.

He said he added six investigators to homicide, taken from units such as theft investigation.

"I think it's really difficult to solve cases when it's just law enforcement. It really does mean that when people see things, they should share it," Chief Armstrong said.

He said the surge in violence is in part due to people from outside Oakland, "as far as Sacramento , Stockton coming into Oakland to commit crimes that's unacceptable."  

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He painted a bleak picture for staffing.

Despite a current police academy  and another  at the start of the new year, he said the total number of frozen positions will go from from 55 to 92 by next July.

"We can all look for a different response to violent crime, but we have to live in the moment. Right now, people in Oakland are experiencing violence," said Chief Armstrong.  

There was mixed reaction from Oaklanders about police staffing.

"Yeah, we do need more policing but I think the hiring process has something to do with it. It's a long process," said Khadim Vajne.  

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"More is not necessarily better or less is necessarily better. I think the function and approach and how integrated they are in the community is more important," said Yuki Watanabe.

Police said they've taken 1,039 firearms off the streets so far this year.

Chief Armstrong said officers are  responding to calls, including those reporting non-violent crimes.

But with over 2,000 calls to 911 daily, he said there will be delays.