OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on Wednesday talked about his new strategy for combating a surge in violent crime that has gripped his city this year, just hours before going public with his road map for the department through 2024.

The city has seen at least 69 homicides in 2021, up 30% from last year.
Officers have recovered more than 600 firearms.

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The Fourth of July holiday turned into what Armstrong described as “12 hours of non-stop chaos” Sunday night, with several victims wounded by celebratory gunfire, a homicide and a massive sideshow marred by gunfire. The night culminated at the sideshow, where more than 200 participants pelted police officers with debris and flashed them with hand-held lasers.

The embattled chief told reporters earlier this week that the level of violence and gunfire overwhelmed his officers.

Wednesday evening, the Oakland Police Department released Armstrong’s strategic plan for 2021-2024 that emphasizes the department’s mission
“to provide police service focused on public safety and the sanctity of life” as well as the importance of accountability and mutual respect with the community.

Armstrong on Tuesday announced his plan to hold a “Stand Up for a Safer Oakland” rally at Lake Merritt this Saturday to call for citywide effort to stop a surge of violence. Police sources told KPIX the rally was in the works well before the chaotic holiday weekend.

So who might attend such a rally?

“I live right over there,” said an area resident who gave his name as Danny. He was walking around Lake Merritt Wednesday morning when he saw Chief Armstrong speaking with KPIX after an interview about the rally.

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“I see what’s happening. You know, I’ve lived here for 14 years now,” he explained.

Frustrated with crime, some of which has unfolded right near his Lake Merritt home, KPIX didn’t even have to tell Danny about the chief’s weekend plans.

“I heard about it,” Danny said. “I hope to attend the rally. I’d like to show my appreciation to the work, the hard work, that the Oakland Police Department is doing. Being short staffed, crime increasing, it’s a serious problem. I’ve done social work all my life. I understand the social problems that exist. I think it has to be a two-part solution. First we have got to get violent crime under control. That’s number one.”

It is that very sentiment the chief is trying to tap into in the community.

“I think it’s an example that there are so many different locations in our community about what safety should look like,” saud Armstrong. “But I think he also said exactly what I’m saying: we all should be able to live in a safe community.”

The chief says his force can’t end violence alone, This weekend is his plea for help to the public. He also said he’s moving on from the city budget fight.

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“At this point, for me, the budget has been solidified,” Armstrong acknowledged. “I have to take the resources that I’ve been given to the department and go out and do everything we can to try to make the city safer.”