The summer of 2011 has been anything but calm on both sides of the Bay. Gun violence is on the rise in both San Francisco and Oakland, with the East Bay’s largest city struggling to cope with a sharp jump in murders, shootings and armed robberies.
As of today, there have been 71 murders in Oakland this year, up from 52 at this point in 2010. There have been five murders alone since last Friday. The most recent set of Oakland Police Department statistics reveal a 39 percent increase in shootings from last year as of July 31st, with 303 incidents of gunfire reported to police compared to 218 at the same time in 2010.
While San Francisco’s 29 killings so far this year are only one more ahead of last year’s murder rate, gun violence is claiming more victims. 141 people have been struck by gunfire so far this year, up from 119 by the end of July 2010. Twenty-six shootings took place between June 5 and July 2nd, up from the fourteen in May.
According to SFPD Officer Albie Esparza, most of the recent shootings have been concentrated in the Bayview and Western Addition areas. There have been 41 shootings in the Bayview police district this year, and 17 in the Northern district, which covers most of the Western Addition. San Francisco’s most recent shooting took place in Silver Terrance this morning (part of the Bayview police district), where a man was wounded in the stomach.
Esparza said some are related to gang violence. In response, SFPD is increasing uniform and undercover patrols in recent hot-spots.
Unlike San Francisco, Oakland’s violence is not concentrated in certain areas of the city– it has affected Deep East Oakland primarily but there have been several shootings in Central and West Oakland as well. Sergeant Holly Joshi said this summer’s outbreak of violence was “totally unanticipated and unacceptable.”
Joshi said there are two trends to this summer’s violence that alarm the department. First, OPD are arresting more people who are carrying weapons on their person.”They’re getting really, really bold,” said Joshi. In the past, OPD officers would recover guns hidden in stash spots. The department’s well-publicized staffing issues appear to have gotten around in the street.
“A lot of this should be attributed to the fact that we’re just not out there like we should be,” said Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officer’s Association and a former homicide investigator.
Secondly, more automatic weapons are being recovered in shootings. “The access to guns is way too easy for young people” in Oakland, Joshi said.
There doesn’t appear to be a specific pattern to the violence. Joshi said there have been inter and intra-gang disputes, particularly among black sets in East Oakland, but some of the recent shootings have been personal disputes as well.
However, OPD will get a boost this weekend when the first batch of 24 rehired officers return to patrol duty. As these rehired officers are moved out to the street over the next two weeks, OPD will reassign officers with crime suppression experience to a new 18-officer task force that will be charged with tamping down the violence.