To see the video of these planned attacks and how helpless clerks and customers are to intervene is shocking. Reports have indicated that it’s easy for the gangs to use the internet to move the stolen items quickly and efficiently.
Frankly, it was a shock last summer to see the San Leandro car dealerships attacked as well as Nordstrom in Broadway Plaza in downtown Walnut Creek. The city and the shopping center partnered to assign off-duty officers to provide additional security, but that’s no match for hammer or sledgehammer bearing thugs that out-number them by 10 or more.
The organized theft rings around Union Square in San Francisco certainly got the mayor’s attention as well as the police chief and the embattled progressive district attorney, Chesa Boudin, who is facing a recall next year. He and colleagues of similar philosophy routinely don’t charge minor crimes—he made a point of announcing three felony charges last week.
My friend, retired sheriff’s lieutenant Jim Knudsen of Pleasanton, forwarded an East Bay Times opinion piece written by the president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, Barry Donelan.
Donelan wrote, “There is mayhem on the streets of Oakland. Last weekend alone, we saw homicides, shootings, carjacking, lootings and robberies. Uniformed Oakland Police officers were shot at twice in three days. Communities around us also saw crime. In San Francisco and Walnut Creek, caravans of marauding thieves looted high-end stores. However, in those cities, there was a different response: Elected officials condemned the theft and destruction and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
“In Oakland, the six members of the City Council that voted to defund their police department responded with deafening silence. Oakland has had historical challenges with violent crime. But this year, we are at crisis levels. Homicides are up to 124, with more than a month still left in the year, compared to 109 for all last year. Homicides and shootings combined have reached 675, compared to 604 for all last year. Carjacking has reached epidemic levels, with 460 vehicles violently taken from drivers on Oakland streets so far this year — that’s more than one a day — compared to 296 for all of last year.”
He continued, “During a typical 24-hour period, about 120 street cops and sergeants are assigned to patrol and endeavor to respond to an average 2,000 calls for service. Last weekend, as officers struggled with the mayhem, our 911 communications center stopped accepting nonemergency calls and citizen requests for police reports. Even after taking this drastic measure, by Saturday afternoon, 229 emergency calls were awaiting a police response, and there were no officers to send. Police commanders resorted to calling in off-duty officers as reinforcements to try to stop the surging violence.”
Donelan also pointed out that twice as many officers were resigning each month as normal. Governors in Tennessee and Florida have publicly welcomed any officers who want to move into their state.
Knudsen urged concerned people to reach out to their county supervisor to encourage support for the embattled department. We’re fortunate here that our elected officials have supported the police and stopped way short of defunding or reimagining the departments.