Every other day on average last month someone was slain Oakland, police said this week.

The 15 homicides are the greatest number of killings for a January in the city in 20 years. Only one homicide occurred in the city a year ago in January.

Sixty-four shootings took place last month in a city that had seen a remarkable drop in violence until last year. Police have placed some of the blame for the recent jump in violence on their inability to use ceasefire tactics during the pandemic. The officers’ association says defunding the department is making things worse.

Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association said in a statement, “As homicides increase, Oakland’s police officer numbers have decreased and the City Council has embraced a ‘defund the police’ strategy that is accelerating the city’s already high violent crime rate.”

According to the association, the city has disbanded several police units, including the homeless detail, traffic enforcement, all bicycle and foot patrols, and community resource teams that protect specific neighborhoods.

Crime overall is down by 43 percent so far this year, according to city statistics. The violent crime index, which consists of homicides, aggravated assaults, rapes, and robberies, is up 2 percent, the data show.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.