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Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan said today that one suspect has been arrested in connection with one of the four homicides across Oakland on Friday and there’s a warrant for a second suspect but he declined to release their names. Speaking at a news conference in front of a mural in the 6400 block of International Boulevard, where 3-year-old Carlos Nava was fatally shot on Aug. 8, 2011, Jordan said police are following leads and conducting “a thorough and comprehensive investigation” into the four fatal shootings but he doesn’t want to disclose much information because officers are seeking additional suspects.
Jordan said two of the four homicides on Friday were linked to what he described as groups of young people who are responsible for “90 percent” of the homicides, shootings and robberies in Oakland in the past eight months but didn’t describe them as gangs. “I’m not labeling any of them as gang-related,” Jordan said. The chief said, “Two groups have been at war with each other” since the shooting death early last summer of a young woman affiliated with one of the groups.
“They’re feuding over the death of a young lady,” Jordan said. The two groups are getting bigger and “continue to grow almost every weekend,” he said. Although some city leaders have called for Oakland to declare a state of emergency and take tough measures such as imposing curfews because of the rash of homicides, Jordan said he doesn’t think sweeping measures are needed because police have a good idea who the perpetrators are and are focusing on the small percentage of the population that believe are causing most of the violence.
He said, “The entire community is not involved” in carrying out the shootings and it would be “wasting our resources” to impose tough citywide measures. Referring to the suspects responsible for the recent homicides, Jordan said, “We’re going to be aggressive and relentless and bring them to justice.” Jordan said that if Oakland declared a state of emergency it only would enable the city to get help from the state for seven days and would have to be extended by Gov. Jerry Brown.
“It would only be a seven-day fix,” he said. Mayor Jean Quan, who joined Jordan at the news conference, said she agreed with Jordan that formally declaring a state of emergency isn’t necessary, saying, “We’ve already been acting as if we’ve been in a state of emergency for a while.” Quan noted that Brown has already assigned a small group of California Highway Patrol officers to work on violence suppression measures in East and West Oakland for the past several months and said the city is trying to get the agreement extended.
Jordan said the city is seeking other short-term measures such as hiring 11 Alameda County sheriff’s deputies for up to 180 days but he said the long-term solution is “hiring and training more Oakland police officers to be here for the next 25 years.” The chief said recruits from one police training academy will hit the streets later this year and recruits from two additional academies will come online be early 2014.
However, Jordan the new officers will only bring a net increase of about 60 to 70 officers to the department’s currently-low staffing level of 616 officers because it loses four or five officers a month to attrition. He said the addition of the new officers “is not enough but it’s a start in the right direction,” as the academy that began last fall and will finish later this year is the first one the city has had in four years.
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