OAKLAND (KPIX) — Violent crime has gotten so bad in Oakland, police are creating a new investigative unit to stop it.
Since the pandemic, Oakland has seen a 230 percent increase in murders. There were 34 in the first three months of this year, compared to 10 homicides in the same period in 2020.READ MORE: Windsor Council Demands Resignation Of Mayor Dominic Foppoli Amid Sexual Assault Investigation
In an effort to stem the violence, the Oakland Police Department has set up a new crime fighting operations center.
Karen Keasley lost her son, Powell Lee, to gun violence this year.
“Who killed my son and why?” asks Keasley.
Lee was a father and a former basketball player at Chico State University. Someone shot and killed the 30-year-old man at a busy Lake Merritt Chevron gas station on January 15th.
“Oh my God, it has really left an empty space and an empty place in my family and in my heart,” says Keasley. “They say wrong place at the wrong time. Well then, if you can’t go get gas, what’s the right place?”
“This level of violence is unacceptable and my condolences to the families,” said Oakland police Chief LeRonne Armstrong at a press conference Friday afternoon.READ MORE: 'Enjoy It While You Can' - Bay Area Bubble Tea Shops Prepare For Looming National Shortage Of Boba
Chief Armstrong is restructuring the investigative unit. Previously, homicide investigators were assigned to five different police districts. Now, about 60 detectives will go to the newly formed Violent Crime Operations Center.
“Allows you to work quicker, to follow up on more information and hopefully to make key arrests in an expedited fashion,” said Chief Armstrong.
The chief said the center will deploy more investigators to crime scenes faster. Aside from homicides, it’ll also handle all gun crimes and support the department’s Ceasefire strategy, which works with high-risk people to prevent gun violence.
Karen was hopeful more investigators will lead to a break in her son’s case. She had this message for the killer.
“I forgive you whoever you are,” says Keasley.
There have been no arrests and no motive in the Powell Lee homicide.MORE NEWS: Sharks Swept By Ducks To End 1-4 Homestand
Oakland police said they have solved 13 homicides, this year.