OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Oakland police held a community meeting in the city’s Grand Lake neighborhood Wednesday to try to reassure merchants and residents in the wake of a double murder at a Wingstop restaurant Monday night and a recent surge in street robberies.

Pamela Drake, director of the Lakeshore Business Improvement District, said she believes the meeting, held at the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, helped business owners and residents understand that the police department’s new neighborhood policing plan aims to decrease response times.

“There’s more police accountability to specific areas and people can see that the police infrastructure is pulling together,” Drake said.

The Police Department recently switched to a new system that breaks up the city into five police districts, each with its own captain.

Drake said she and others who live and work in the area hope that the fatal shooting of two employees at the Wingstop restaurant at 528 Lake Park Ave. late Monday night was an isolated incident because police say they don’t think robbery was the motive.

But she said merchants and residents are concerned about a recent spike in street robberies in the area.

Drake said people sometimes “feel helpless” but that she hopes that will change with the new neighborhood policing plan.

City Councilman Noel Gallo said he believes that increasing the number of officers on foot, bicycle and in patrol cars is the best means of fighting crime.

But he said it will take a while to see significant improvement because the Police Department currently only has about 630 officers on its force and needs more to effectively combat crime.

Gallo pointed out, though, that the police department is training more recruits, and the budget approved by the city council last week calls for hiring more civilian police technicians, which will boost the number of officers available to patrol the streets.

“We’re trying to make changes in Oakland but changes in bureaucracy are slow,” Gallo said.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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