OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Oakland police have arrested 36 people in an effort called “Operation Spring Cleaning” that is aimed at reducing violence in their city, police Chief Anthony Batts said Friday.
Batts said police are cracking down on gangs, guns and drugs because of what he described as “a spike” in homicides and shootings.
He said homicides have increased by 13 percent and shootings have jumped 29 percent compared to this time last year.
However, Batts said Oakland’s overall crime rate is down by 13 percent and is “going in the right direction.”
“We’ve put together with our limited resources a task force to go out to address some of those who have been doing shootings and armed robberies in our city in a very assertive and aggressive way,” Batts said.
KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:
Capt. Ersie Joyner said police have obtained arrest warrants for 68 people they have deemed to be dangerous. He said 36 people were arrested on Thursday and police hope to arrest most of the remaining 32 suspects soon.
“We went and identified individuals that we believed are involved in at-risk behavior—either involved in shootings, murders or witnesses to very violent crimes,” Captain Ersie Joyner said.
The operation also has resulted in police seizing large quantities of narcotics and firearms, Joyner said.
Joyner said officers are targeting what he described as “the 50 most dangerous open-air drug areas” in Oakland.
He said that in West Oakland, three of the most high-profile areas are the “Dogtown” section near 34th and Hanna streets, the area near 31st Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way where the “Ghost Town” gang is active, and the district near Market and 7th streets where the Acorn gang is active.
Joyner said two of the areas in East Oakland where police are focusing are parts of Seminary Avenue and the 96th Avenue area.
Batts said violence in Oakland ebbs and flows throughout the year.
He said sometimes there’s an increase in violence when a gang leader is released from prison and wants to re-establish his territory and sometime there’s an increase when one group of people “disrespects” another group.
Batts said the recent increase in shootings appears to have resulted in part from random incidents of gang members from one part of Oakland accidentally encountering gang members from other parts of the city in areas where their gang rivals don’t think they should be.
“It appears to be incidents of groups running into each other randomly and not mass gang warfare,” Batts said.
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