California Highway Patrol presence in East Bay will increase four-fold starting next week

A staff member shoots a video of Gavin Newsom
Gavin Newsom is cracking down on organized crime, sideshows and carjackings in the East Bay. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that he will be quadrupling the number of shifts of California Highway Patrol officers to Oakland and will deploy prosecutors from the California National Guard starting Monday to target organized crime, carjackings and sideshows.

The announcement comes five months after initially sending 120 Highway Patrol officers to Oakland as part of a new campaign to bolster law enforcement police presence in a city where last year's data revealed that violent crime increased by 21%, robbery rose 38% and vehicle theft went up 43%.

Concerns about crime in California, fed by a rash high-profile shoplifting rings, remain a volatile political issue in the state, prompting a slate of new legislation to crack down on retail theft and a controversial November ballot measure, Proposition 36, which would increase criminal penalties for theft and dealing fentanyl.

“While we are encouraged by some positive trends, the lawlessness we’re seeing on the streets of Oakland is unacceptable," Newsom said in a statement. "Building on our partnership with local law enforcement, I'm deploying a new surge of CHP officers to help provide the people of Oakland and the East Bay the safety and security they deserve.”

Since the start of the year, the Oakland Police Department has reported that crime has decreased by 33%, results that Newsom and Mayor Sheng Thao have credited to the heightened law enforcement. But Police Chief Floyd Mitchell acknowledged during a Thursday news conference that there have been discrepancies in local crime data, specifically caused by a delay in reporting property crimes.

Since officers were deployed in February, the Highway Patrol has been operating only two to three days a week, according to Mitchell. He said the expanded operation announced Thursday will provide a higher "intensity." The effort will last about four months, and the CHP details will be operating daily.

When Oakland's crime rates were up last year, Newsom and Atty. Gen. Rob Bonta offered to send state prosecutors from the California National Guard from to help Alameda County Dist. Atty. Pamela Price, who is facing a recall election this year.

But Newsom said Price's office hasn't taken advantage of those resources and that because there has been a lack of action, he "needed to pull the plug" on the partnership.

"Yes, we've been disappointed. The lack of engagement with the D.A.'s office," he said. "So we're moving forward."

Newsom said the Cal Guard prosecutors he is sending to Alameda County will report to the state attorney general's office and will be tasked with some of the East Bay's most "complex" cases.

In San Francisco, Cal Guard attorneys have been helping handle felony drug cases for the past year.

Read more: Newsom to send 120 CHP officers to fight crime in Oakland

It isn't uncommon for a governor to deploy state officers as reinforcement, especially if local agencies are strapped. In the East Bay, the Highway Patrol has recovered 1,142 stolen cars, seized 55 guns that were linked to crimes and made 562 arrests since February, Newsom's office announced.

In April, Newsom deployed a batch of officers to Bakersfield. The city is in Kern County, where crime data indicate that violent and property crimes are higher than the state average.

Read more: Newsom says CHP work in cities has led to ‘unprecedented’ fentanyl seizures

A month later, he said the seizures of fentanyl taking place across those cities were "unprecedented."

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.