Oakland police will continue for another month a plan to reduce gun violence in the city following an already successful month, Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said this week.

While still too many, nine lives were lost to violence in the 30 days ending Oct. 25, compared with 17 in the previous 30 days.

Officers arrested 120 people between Aug. 26 and Sept. 25 for shootings and violent crimes and recovered 82 guns, Armstrong said.

“We will continue our all-hands-on-deck approach,” Armstrong said at a Tuesday news conference.

The department’s focus is on shootings and killings by groups and gangs, which Armstrong said are committing 30 percent of all shootings and killings in Oakland.

The chief implemented the 30-day plan about four weeks ago following the deadliest week of the year. Eight lives were lost in a seven-day period, he said.

Following that deadly violence, Armstrong challenged his command staff to make the city safer immediately.

Police have used every available resource and leveraged partnerships with local, state and federal agencies to reduce violent crime and recover firearms, the chief said.

Beefing up the force

In addition, he has added eight officers to the department’s criminal investigations division, and he has deployed a traffic enforcement team, he said.

Traffic officers are focused on corridors with the highest number of injuries. Traffic officers have written more than 40 citations in their first few days, Armstrong said.

“These officers have met with applause in our community,” the chief said.

Armstrong added that his department received a $1.8 million grant to hire 15 more officers, some of whom will walk beats in areas that need a greater police presence, such as Chinatown.

“We have to bring forth a sense of safety in this city,” he said.

The department will graduate nearly two dozen more officers Friday, bringing staffing to more than 700 officers for the first time this year, Armstrong said.

“This department is growing,” he said.

Gun violence in Oakland has proliferated as more people have been carrying guns following the pandemic. More people are driving with guns and now thieves are using guns in low-level crimes such as burglaries and catalytic converter thefts.

All of them are producing gun violence, Armstrong said.

The department is using intelligence to focus on the people driving gun violence, Armstrong said.

He said police must get in front of the retaliation, which is what tends to be driving the violence in Oakland.

Following the department’s success over the past month, the chief wants to alleviate residents’ perception of fear. He is hoping it feels a little safer.

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.