OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Seven people have been killed in Oakland in the last five days, prompting police officials to beef up patrols and call on federal help. Oakland police said several factors are causing the uptick in violence, and COVID-19 is a major one.
“We’ve increased our officers walking in the community, doing neighborhood patrols,” said Oakland Police Deputy Chief Leronne Armstrong. “You’ll see officers driving around in cars but also on bicycles and walking so that we can help be a deterrent for those that want to be engaged in this level of violence.”
At 90th and Olive in East Oakland Wednesday, a lone police cruiser was parked in the intersection, flashing red and blue lights. Nearby, a makeshift memorial honors a victim of a recent homicide.
There was a similar scene at 85th and International Blvd. and a few other intersections in Oakland.
Over the last decade, the number of homicides in Oakland have dropped significantly. Down from a peak of 126 murders in 2011, there was an increase year-to-year last year, with a total of 75 homicides.
But this year, there have already been 74 murders with three months to go.
”The traumatic impact violence is having on our community is sort of a double whammy,” said Interim Oakland Police Chief Susan Mannheimer. “It is the same community that is experiencing the highest levels in crimes of violence and gunfire as are being hit so hard with the COVID-19 disease and pandemic.”
Some residents suggested cabin fever is getting the best of some of their young neighbors.
“Everybody had to stay inside and then when they come out, they’re overanxious,” explained Brenda Delavallade, an Oakland resident.
Mannheimer said some prison inmates who were released early because of COVID-19 are back in the neighborhood without the appropriate resources to help them re-settle. Also, gang rivalries are rekindling, she said.
“We have seen an uptick in the ongoing feud between groups and gangs around territory,” she said.
Police said along with increasing patrols in areas near shooting scenes, they are also working with federal agencies including the FBI to try to reduce the violence.