VIDEO: Oakland says overall crime is down significantly, murders down 15 percent

FILE On Dec. 27, 2016 Oakland Police officers searched the area of 39th and West Avenues for a suspect connected to a crime.

 

OAKLAND (KRON) — The City of Oakland announced its crime statistics for 2017 on Tuesday, and the mayor and police chief revealed how the East Bay city is becoming safer in some ways, but then facing major challenges in other areas.

Newly released figures show the City of Oakland had 31,032 reports of violent crime last year in 2017.

At a news conference on Tuesday, the mayor, police chief, and others involved in crime reducing efforts addressed statistics drawn from the Oakland Police Department database over the last five years, including a look at some of the highlights from 2017.

Overall, crime is down significantly.

Homicides were down by 15 percent in 2017.

Shootings of an occupied home or vehicle went down 29 percent and carjackings went down by 22 percent.

Chief Kirkpatrick–a year on the job–said she was pleased with the findings.

She and others credited the improvement to a more focused and strategic department and working with partners with Ceasefire, a crimefighting community and faith-based program.

However, while the figures show safer streets, some problems continue to plague the city, such as auto burglaries, which increased 32 percent from 2016 to 2017 and up 25 percent over the last five years.

Here is the full statement from the City of Oakland:

Oakland, CA – Oakland city officials and community members gathered Tuesday to announce a steady decline in the city’s violent crime rate over the past five years.

The FBI’s violent crime index – which tracks murders, rape, robbery, and assault – has dropped 23 percent in Oakland from 2012 to 2017, with the steepest declines in shootings (down 50 percent) homicides (down 42 percent) and robbery (down 38 percent) during that time frame.

In 2012, the city saw 553 shootings and 125 homicides. By comparison, in 2017 the city witnessed 277 shootings and 72 homicides – Oakland’s second lowest homicide total since records were kept in 1985.

The sustained trend is due to a consistent crime-fighting strategy that focuses on stronger community relationships, a stabilized leadership at the top of the Oakland Police Department, and better intelligence-sharing among rank and file, officials said.

“We’re seeing the payoff for sticking to a solid game plan,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said. “But let’s be clear, this is not ‘mission accomplished.’ This is progress acknowledged.”

Peter Kim, Interim Director of the City’s new Department of Violence Prevention and Manager of the Oakland Unite Division of the Human Services Department, said, “Our efforts have always focused on interrupting violence now as it is occurring and preventing future violence. Oakland’s holistic approach—addressing the complex and multiple risk factors associated with violence: poverty, unemployment, discrimination, substance abuse, educational failure, fragmented families, and domestic abuse—has contributed to the significant decline in violence.”

OPD also continued a sharp decline in police use of force incidents, dropping 75 percent in five years. In 2012, the Department recorded 1,244 incidents. Last year, 309.

“Relationships at the ground level make all Oaklanders safer,” Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick said. “Our residents need to trust our officers and our officers need to respect every resident; when we establish that common bond, then we’re all working together to make positive change.”

OPD achieved a 71 percent clearance rare for homicide cases in 2017. The national average in 2016 according the FBI was 59 percent.

“The high clearance rate sends a strong message that you can’t get away with it in Oakland,” Chief Kirkpatrick said.

Mayor Schaaf recognized the city’s Ceasefire program as a critical link to preventing and solving crime in Oakland. The program has logged more than 200 “call-ins” with since 2012.

“Every homicide is a profound tragedy that traumatizes our community,” Schaaf said. “We must continue to combat the root causes of crime to deliver on our goal to bring holistic community safety to all Oaklanders.”

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