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Newsom to send 120 CHP officers to fight crime in Oakland

The door of a law enforcement patrol vehicle emblazoned with the California Highway Patrol logo.
A California Highway Patrol car on the I-580 bridge. Additional CHP officers will help Oakland use license plate readers to help recover stolen vehicles and work alongside K-9 and air units. | Source: Chris Carlson/AP Photo

California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday that he is sending 120 California Highway Patrol officers to Oakland to help address rising violent crime in the city.

The officers will conduct a targeted law enforcement surge operation in Oakland and surrounding Alameda County focused on vehicle theft, retail theft and violent crime. The deployment represents a nearly 900% increase in CHP personnel for the county.

Oakland has seen violent crime rise 21%, robbery increase 38% and vehicle theft jump 45% compared with last year, according to preliminary 2023 data. That contrasts with declining crime rates in other major California cities, like Los Angeles.

Last summer, the city's NAACP called on officials to declare a state of emergency over crime in the city, which the organization said had gotten so out of control that “everyone is in danger.” In December, an undercover Oakland police officer was fatally shot while responding to a burglary call at a cannabis dispensary. In January, In-N-Out and Denny's announced plans to close restaurants along a theft-plagued business corridor near the city's airport.

A man stands near a gas pump where his car is parked.
Paul Giroux stands near his rental car at a 76 gas station at 449 Hegenberger Road in Oakland last month. Thieves had stolen his luggage moments before. | Source: Garrett Leahy/The Standard

"What's happening in this beautiful city and surrounding area is alarming and unacceptable," Newsom said in a statement. "I'm sending the California Highway Patrol to assist local efforts to restore a sense of safety."

The officers will utilize license plate readers to help recover stolen vehicles and work alongside K-9 and air units. The length of the operation will be determined in coordination with Oakland police.

Newsom has steered substantial state funding into violence prevention programs, schools, small businesses and other services in Oakland. But he said the surge in crime requires a law enforcement crackdown.

A California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer lifts police tape to let parents and students leave a cordoned off area on Fountain Street following a shooting at a school campus in Oakland, on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.
A California Highway Patrol officer lifts police tape to let parents and students leave a cordoned-off area following a shooting at a school campus in Oakland in 2022. | Source: | Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group/AP Photo

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao welcomed the deployment, saying it will "help us hold more criminals accountable and make Oakland safer."

In 2023, the CHP saw high-profile deployment in San Francisco's Tenderloin and South of Market neighborhoods in an effort to help embattled San Francisco police take on the fentanyl epidemic. CHP and other Bay Area law enforcement agencies also assisted San Francisco during November's APEC gathering to patrol the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, staff venues and aid with protest incidents.

George Kelly can be reached at gkelly@sfstandard.com