OAKLAND (KCBS)— Oakland police announced a $2 million grant to bolster what they say are proven violence reduction strategies.
According to police, crime is down in Oakland this year compared to last, with homicides down 21 percent and street robberies seeing a 37-percent decline.
Police Chief Sean Whent said part of the $2 million will go towards gun tracing and gun comparison, which means they’ll be attempting to link guns to crimes and follow through on analysis until it leads to suspects.
“Gun tracing has a lot of data input. The comparison is lab work, which we’ve been working on trying to build up our lab capacity. We’ve got the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] actually helping us out now on a part-time basis and I’ve added additional staff in the lab already to work on this. We’re seeing the potential of it already,” Whent said.
State Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), who helped secure the funds, said it’s not just about catching criminals, but also about what to do with them once they’ve served their time.
“Every person who’s in a state facility now (when they are released) is released with a state ID,” she said.
This is part of the state’s effort to focus on giving recently-released prisoners an easier time re-entering society. They’ll also be signed up for Medi-Cal and will be eligible for mental health and drug-treatment services in addition to having more opportunities for job interviews.
In July 2013 Oakland City Council initially approved $2 million for a citywide surveillance center called the Domain Awareness Center, but that plan was later scaled back. Police and city officials also credit Operation Ceasefire, an East Bay anti-violence group that provides youth with alternatives to turning to the streets, for the reasons why crime is down.
Police expect the street-crime rate to drop even further when the kill-switch requirement kicks in for smartphones. Two-thirds of Oakland robberies involve smartphones.