Oakland, CA

CHP to increase patrols in Oakland streets

Built in the Bay

(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

By Ian Firstenberg

(OAKLAND, Calif.) Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff, in a Wednesday press conference with Gov. Gavin Newsom about required vaccination or testing for educators, announced that California Highway Patrol officers will help with traffic enforcement in some of the city's most underserved areas.

Schaaf reportedly asked Newsom for "increased traffic enforcement in Oakland" and the governor obliged. Schaaf specifically mentioned International Boulevard, which is a state highway that CHP infrequently patrols.

Notably, Schaaf referenced a recent incident in which the former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer was pushed to the ground, although not seriously injured, in Oakland's Jack London neighborhood.

Despite this incident, violent crime — in particular, gun violence and armed robbery — have been up in Oakland as residents struggle to economically recover from the lingering effects of health lockdowns.

According to OPD's most recent crime report, both homicides and gun violence are up 31 and 39 percent, respectively. Robberies are up 5 percent. Notably, burglaries have fallen by 21 percent compared to the three-year average.

The effect of unemployment or under-employment on crime rates has been thoroughly analyzed by scientists around the country. As another lockdown looms, state and federal governments must prepare to financially support the workers of this country.

On Friday, federal judges declined to block an eviction moratorium put in place for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that would provide renters some support as delta variant concerns threaten to upend the months spent lowering the curve.

The mayor's announcement of increased CHP patrols comes just one day after Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce President Carl Chan sent a letter to Newsom pushing for a "state of emergency" declaration amid rising crime in the city.

While no specific policy has been drafted, the governor's public verbal commitment indicated that the plan will move forward quickly.

As reported by David DeBolt, a similar program was instituted in 2013 when OPD, claiming they were overworked and understaffed, asked for help from the state. February 15, 2013, the city council approved a 60-day "crime suppression assistance" agreement that brought five, two-officer units and two supervisors to patrol twice a week, often on weekends.

Former Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, in an interview with The Oaklandside Thursday, said he did not recall any complaints against CHP officers during the initiative.

“We were kept abreast of what was happening and not happening,” Jordan said. “They were pretty self-sufficient, they brought their own force, sometimes brought their helicopter or plane.” 

Despite this, Jordan noted that OPD has no ability to hold CHP to its departmental standards.

“Their use of force policy is different. They may be allowed to do more things than your OPD officers do. They are not going to follow the OPD manual even though they are working in Oakland," Jordan told The Oaklandside.

Civil rights attorney John Burris expressed some worry about the increased patrols in light of the different enforcement standards.

“What I don’t want is a two-tier policing system in the city, where you have OPD being held accountable but the CHP officers are not,” Burris told The Oaklandside.

In addition to representing the family of Angelo Quinto, the Navy veteran who died following a use of force incident in his mother's home by the Antioch Police department, Burris is currently representing the family of Erik Salgado, the 23-year-old who was shot and killed by CHP officers last year in East Oakland. Salgado's pregnant girlfriend was injured in the shooting.

Notably, Schaaf's delayed budget proposal, which was eventually adopted by city council, included increased police funding and staffing despite public calls for less funding for the police and more investment into the city's infrastructure and education.

Supporters argue that CHP's presence will help unburden an nd overwhelmed and understaffed OPD force but detractors point to the differences in policy and the history of violence and distrust that residents have as the largest obstacle for highway patrol's effectiveness.

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