(The Center Square) – Citing crime and robberies of workers, Kaiser Permanente directed its employees at its downtown Oakland headquarters to stay in their buildings for lunch. Kaiser is the fourth-largest healthcare provider in the United States and the largest private employer in Oakland. Earlier this month In-N-Out announced it would be shutting down its profitable Oakland location due to crime against customers and employees, in its first-ever closure.
In a statement to Fox KTVU, which first reported on the story, Kaiser said, “Those recommendations remain in place for now. Kaiser Permanente is committed to ensuring the safety and security of our employees and physicians across all of our locations.”
Crime in Oakland is rapidly on the rise, with violent crime up 21%, robbery up 38%, burglary up 23%, and motor vehicle theft up 45% in 2023 compared to 2022.
“At the end of last year, Oakland experienced significant reductions in property crime in business districts across the city,” said Oakland mayor Sheng Thao in response to Fox. “Oakland will remain vigilant and work collaboratively to ensure this downward trend continues and that more resources are brought to the table.”
Last year, the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People demanded that city leaders declare a state of emergency on crime, end defunding of police, and prosecute more people who commit crimes.
“Failed leadership, including the movement to defund the police, our District Attorney’s unwillingness to charge and prosecute people who murder and commit life threatening serious crimes, and the proliferation of anti-police rhetoric have created a heyday for Oakland criminals,” wrote leaders of the Oakland NAACP in an open letter to city officials. “Our 911 system does not work. Residents now know that help will not come when danger confronts them.”
Alameda County, which includes Oakland, has the highest proportion of black residents in California for any county with more than 500,000 residents, suggesting the Oakland NAACP’s support for greater policing could lead to significant political change at the local level.
In September 2023, the Oakland NAACP called for the city to raise its police force to 1,000 officers from approximately 700 officers, and to hire a permanent police chief. Oakland has been without a permanent police chief since Thao fired then-chief LeRonne Armstron in February 2023 due to misconduct. The city recently extended its search for a new police chief to March 2024 after rejecting all candidates on the three-candidate short list.