Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao on Wednesday said that following the arrest Sunday of nine juveniles for nearly three dozen robberies, the city will provide resources and deliver consequences to youth committing crimes in Oakland.
Robberies are up 7 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year, and the trend includes an increase in youth involvement, police said.
Thao said her proposed budget invests in a new Department of Children, Youth and Families, which may help address the root causes of crime among youth.
“We will give more resources to our young people,” Thao told reporters Wednesday morning. “But we will also make sure there is justice.”
Police are reinvesting in foot patrols in business corridors and are bringing back motorcycle officers, Thao said. Oakland is also partnering with the California Highway Patrol, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to improve safety, she said.
Acting Police Chief Darren Allison said Oakland has seen a surge in violence in recent weeks and asked the community to come together.
Fifty robberies occurred in a recent 72-hour period, Allison said.
The mayor’s proposed budget includes nearly $724 million for Oakland police over two years. From the General Fund alone, police could receive just over $685 million.
The Oakland Department of Violence Prevention, which aims to prevent violence among youth and others, could get $9 million next year and $10 million the following year if the Oakland City Council approves the mayor’s budget proposal.
Kentrell Killens, interim chief of that department, said it offers young people the opportunity to connect with services to make a difference in the decisions and outcomes of their personal lives.
“These are our babies,” Killens said. “These are our children.”
Services are also available to families of the young people, he said.
Thao said in her mind, no one would choose a life of crime, so getting to the root causes is important.
“Resources are key, consequences are key,” said Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, whose district include several business corridors such as Jack London Square and downtown.
Fife said it’s important to look at why youth are committing these crimes. She thinks the crimes are probably connected to adults.
Thao said she is taking a comprehensive approach to the crime, hence she’s partnering with the Department of Violence Prevention and police. She said the plan will work, though did not say how much it will cost.
“We know here in the city of Oakland and in any city, that all families deserve to feel safe,” Thao said. “And what we have seen in recent weeks and months has been disheartening.”