‘We Find Ourselves In A Crisis’: Oakland Police Chief Criticizes City Council After Police Budget Slashed Amid Spike In Crime

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Oakland’s police chief criticized the city council Monday after they voted to slash the police budget amid a spike in crime and violence.

The Oakland City Council passed a budget Thursday that strips more than $17 million from the police department over the next two years to pay for social programs, according to KPIX 5.

“Today, we find ourselves in a crisis,” chief LeRonne Armstrong said, according to KPIX 5. “We find ourselves reeling from a weekend of violence where we have seen four homicides over a three-day period.”

“Our shootings are up over 70% this year. Our robberies are up 11% this year. There’s been 1,300 robberies in this city already this year. Our carjackings are up nearly 88%. So we see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland and our response was for less police resources.”

“When City Council members, the majority have voted to defund this police department, that additional $17 million that was reduced from the police department’s budget will have an impact,” Armstrong said, according to KPIX 5.

Armstrong said his department was already overwhelmed with calls at its current staffing level and things will only get worse with the budget cuts, which are estimated to cost the department 50 current vacant officer positions that will not be filled, according to the report.

“We already have a tough time responding to the high number of calls that we get,” Armstrong said, according to NBC Bay Area.  “This will make it tougher, having less officers in the field, particularly for marginalized communities like deep East Oakland, where we see two-thirds of our calls coming from.”

Hours after Armstrong criticized the decision, the city’s Department of Violence Prevention Chief Guillermo Cespedes was involved in an attempted armed robbery while filming a TV interview, according to the East Bay Times. Two suspects approached the camera person and tried to take the camera at gunpoint, according to the report.

“The armed security officer pulled his firearm out, and directed the suspects to leave. The suspects immediately left the area without the camera,” police reportedly said.

Democratic Mayor Libby Schaaf also criticized the cuts, saying it will make the situation worse, according to Oakland Side. (RELATED: Mayor Of Oakland Goes After City Council For Wanting To Slash Police Budget After Another Brutal Attack Caught On Video)

“Unfortunately, it also cuts 50 police officers who respond to Oaklanders’ 911 calls and enforce traffic safety. It also cuts much-needed future academies, which will significantly reduce police staffing and delay response to Oaklanders in their time of crisis.”

“It will force our officers to work even more overtime shifts, which are expensive and unsafe for officers and residents alike,” she reportedly continued.

Oakland has seen 65 homicides since January, according to KPIX 5. Four people died over the weekend as street violence has increased 90% when compared to this time last year, according to the report.

The budget indicates $4 million will be reallocated to a pilot program which will send trained personnel to respond to incidents involving mental and behavioral health when the individual (s) in question are non-violent, according to NBC Bay Area.