Gov. Newsom adding 120 CHP officers in Oakland, East Bay

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Gov. Gavin Newsom is sending 120 more CHP officers to Oakland and the East Bay – a 900% increase – to help cities fight crime. 

The officers will be concentrated in Oakland, along the Hegenberger corridor and Rockridge, as two examples, where the mayor has said for the last year that she wanted that extra help. 

“As crime rates across California decrease — including right across the Bay in San Francisco — Oakland is seeing the opposite trend,” Newsom said in a statement later sent to KTVU. “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.”

In August 2023, Newsom announced a partnership with Oakland to deploy six CHP officers and a sergeant within the city and loan up to $1.2 million to improve public safety in Oakland. This new announcement increased that number nine-fold.

Yet, when the officers will start and exactly how they will be used has not yet been publicly revealed. 

CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee said officers from across the Bay Area are being assigned to Oakland to help tackle auto theft, cargo theft, retail crime and help provide high-visibility traffic enforcement.

“Our goal with this operation is to restore a sense of safety, not only for the residents, but for the business owners and the visitors of the East Bay area,” Coffee said.

Crime in Oakland is rising compared to other urban centers in California. 

Data from Oakland indicate that in 2023, violent crime rose 21%, robbery increased 38%, and vehicle theft increased 45%. 

Outside of Oakland, 2023 data from across the state indicates the opposite trend: crime, including homicides, violent crime, and property crime is down in many jurisdictions. 

For example, violent crime and homicides are significantly down in Los Angeles, and early data from San Francisco indicate overall crime in 2023 was at its lowest point in the last 10 years — other than the year 2020 when daily life and routines were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chris Iglesias, of The Unity Council, said that the crime rate has been really hard on merchants, especially in the Fruitvale district and along International Boulevard. 

He and other stakeholders had a “blunt” sit-down with Newsom recently about this topic. 

He said he is trying to be optimistic about the influx of extra officers. 

Mayor Sheng Thao called the CHP increase a “game changer” in helping hold “more criminals accountable and make Oakland safer.”

“The surge of crime and violence that we are seeing in our streets is completely unacceptable,” Thao said in a statement Tuesday “The city of Oakland is hard at work turning the tide — increasing law enforcement investigations, increasing police recruitment, and investing in community and violence intervention efforts.”

In five months, the CHP arrested 100 suspected criminals and recovered 193 stolen vehicles, Newsom said. 

The Oakland Branch of the NAACP thanked the governor, but said Mayor Thao was misleading the public and attempting to take credit for the CHP increase. 

“She nor her staff were a part of the meeting with the Governor, and she should be ashamed for trying to take credit for the work of the NAACP Oakland Branch,” NAACP Oakland Branch President Cynthia Adams wrote in a letter. 

Across the Bay, the CHP’s special operation in San Francisco has resulted in over 460 arrests, 5,263 citations, and the seizure of over 18.1 kilograms of fentanyl, Newsom’s office said.

And the mayor of Antioch recently asked the governor for assistance in his city.

Not everyone likes CHP help. 

In the fall, Cat Brooks, co-founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, said in her opinion that sending state highway patrol officers is “not rooted in effective violence prevention policies or data, but rather is a lazy attempt to suggest action while endangering the people of Oakland.

She noted that previous Mayor Libby Schaaf brought in the CHP three times over two terms and there was no data to prove that the presence of the CHP resulted in a “noticeable decrease in violent crime.”  

In a previous interview, Reygan Cunningham, co-director of The California Partership for Safe Communities and who used to help lead Oakland’s successful Ceasefire program, said bringing in the CHP to help could work if cities have specific plans and measurable goals and data collection techniques.

When she worked with Oakland police, her group would give the CHP specific tasks, such as assisting with a sideshow on International Boulevard, as traffic control is that agency’s specialty. 

Then the stakeholders would meet afterward and review what went right and what went wrong to determine the next course of action and best practices.

What Harmon worries about is if cities just ask the CHP or outside agencies to come and help with no plan.

“It all depends on what cities do with them,” Harmon said. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.