(The Center Square) – California governor Gavin Newsom deployed over 100 California Highway Patrol officers to Oakland after a surge in crime. Rising crime has led businesses to tell employees to stay at work for lunch rather than risk robbery on the streets, and even for California’s storied In-N-Out to shut down its profitable Oakland location.
“What’s happening in this beautiful city and surrounding area is alarming and unacceptable. I’m sending the California Highway Patrol to assist local efforts to restore a sense of safety that the hardworking people of Oakland and the East Bay demand and deserve” said Newsom in a statement.
Newsom says the 120 CHP officers will be targeting theft, violent crime, and traffic violations. Specialized units, such as K9s and air support, along with license plate reader technology will be part of the deployment.
Unlike much of California, crime in Oakland is 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.
Oakland’s largest employer and the nation’s fourth-largest healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, ordered its employees at its national headquarters in Oakland to eat lunch in the office to minimize risk of lunchtime robberies. In-N-Out also announced it would be closing its Oakland location, the first closure in the fast food chain’s history, because its “Customers and Associates are regularly victimized by car break-ins, property damage, theft, and armed robberies.”
While the nation’s violent crime rate decreased from 387 to 380.7 per 100,000 people between 2022 and 2023, California was an outlier, with the state’s violent crime rate per 100,000 people increased from 481.2 to 499.5 over the same time period. Arrests in California have declined 27% from pre-pandemic levels.
Academic studies are consistent in determining that increased arrests tend to correlate with lower crime rates, both from deterrence, but also incapacitation — the removal of serial criminals from the public through incarceration.
“The surge of crime and violence that we are seeing in our streets is completely unacceptable,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao in a statement. “As we work to improve public safety, I’m grateful for Governor Newsom for providing these critical law enforcement resources that are a game-changer in helping us hold more criminals accountable and make Oakland safer.”
Thao took office as an Oakland city councilmember in 2018 before winning the 2022 mayoral election. Thao is yet to appoint a full-time police chief after ousting the former police chief in the first months of her term due to corruption.
In his release, the governor claimed to have spent millions on “equity-focused grants” and “arts and culture” grants in Oakland, along with nearly $1 billion on “climate-focused grants” in the city. Funded programs include a local “aquaponics farm and food hub,” a “bike lending program,” and a “fruit tree replanting.”
The governor’s office did not respond to questions regarding the performance of these programs and their impact, if any, on the city’s surging crime.