Oakland Officials Claim Latest Crime Fighting Efforts Have Yielded Results

2024-03-19 08:00:54

Oakland city leaders bragged that their latest crime-fighting efforts have led to a decline in crime in the Hegenberger corridor near the airport.

The corridor has lost many shops due to crime. The residents don’t feel safe.

Oakland leaders point to a $250,000 investment in Black Cultural Zone, a nonprofit group with “35 ‘safety ambassadors’ to bolster foot traffic on sidewalks and offer resources to those in need”:

“We are watching the numbers trend in the direction that we demanded and deserved — and we know there’s still so much to do,” said Councilmember Treva Reid, whose district includes the Hegenberger corridor, at Monday’s conference.

Reid and others reserved special praise for Black Cultural Zone, the nonprofit that staffs nearly three dozen community ambassadors to boost the general feeling of safety among East Oakland residents and businesses.

The ambassadors, hired mostly from the neighborhood, are paid $25 an hour to roam the sidewalks and spot people who might need help. Similar to MACRO, the city’s non-emergency response unit, the safety ambassadors do not actually intervene in crimes.

Greg Hodge, a longtime community leader who heads the nonprofit, said the added bustle on the sidewalks may sometimes be enough to ward off robberies.

“The implicit thing that’s happening is when there’s more people and more eyes out on the street, the less likely you’re going to have incidences of robberies,” Hodge, a former mayoral candidate, said in an interview.

Gov. Gavin Newsom even sent more officers and attorneys to help deal with the crime. Leaders claim those efforts have helped, too:

Meanwhile, an ongoing expansion into Oakland by the California Highway Patrol, which since last month has made 168 arrests throughout the city, has involved some focused enforcement on Hegenberger Road. More security cameras have been installed in the area, including at the airport.

The neighborhood is a “key gateway” into Oakland and a “vital element to our city’s economic engine,” in part because of its proximity to the Coliseum complex, [Mayor Sheng] Thao said Monday at a news conference.

“For far too long, this corridor has been ignored,” Thao said. “And I think that is a huge mistake.”

“If we take care of this corridor,” she continued, “we will see Oakland thriving a lot more than what we have seen in the past.”

Thao boasted about lower crime rates earlier this month, but her statistics did not include robberies and home invasions.

Burglaries dropped 47% through March 10 compared to the same time in 2023, and gunfire reports went down 17%. However, robberies went up by 32%.

Burglaries and robberies are not the same crime: “Although robbery and burglary may seem the same, they’re actually different crimes. The most important thing to remember is that burglary involves entering a home or another building illegally, whether or not something is stolen, while robbery involves taking property from a person through threats or fear of harm.”

In East Oakland, which houses the Hegenberger corridor, burglaries decreased by 70%, gunfire declined by 18%, and robberies increased by 36%.


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