A black California police chief has ripped local politicians for slashing his department’s budget by more than $17 million — even as the murder rate is almost double that of a year ago.
“Today, we find ourselves in a crisis,” Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a press conference Monday, adding that the city was “reeling” from a murder rate that’s 90 percent higher than this time last year.
Armstrong also emotionally noted that his own “god-sister” was among those killed.
“Put people’s lives first before political agendas,” he said, adding that “without the resources, it makes it challenging to make Oakland safe.”
Shootings are also up more than 70 percent and carjackings by almost 88 percent, with 1,300 robberies recorded already this year, he said.
“We see clearly that crime is out of control in the city of Oakland — and our response was for less police resources,” he said of the budget cut approved by the Oakland City Council last week.
“I had a difficult time wrapping my head around” the decision by the council members, he said, saying the “majority of them” had “voted to defund this police department.”
“When you hear the statements from those that say nothing will change — that is not true. Yes it will,” he said of the push to defund the police that started last year.
“The impact will be immediate,” he warned.
He was particularly angered by activists and politicians who argued that there would a “bump in the road” as police departments lost key resources.
“For me, those speed bumps are 65 lives lost so far this year. All of these crimes are not speed bumps. These are people,” he said.
This time last year, there had been 35 murders, the department said.
As he spoke, photos of some of the city’s latest murder victims were displayed behind him — with Armstrong pausing to compose himself as he highlighted LaShawn Buffin, a 53-year-old woman killed Jan. 19.
“This is my god-sister. That means something to me,” he said.
“When the yellow tape is gone and when the streets are cleaned up, there is still hurt and pain and tragedy in our community,” he added.
Soon after the press conference, the city recorded yet another crime — with a TV news crew held up at gunpoint while interviewing Oakland’s director of violence prevention about the chief’s remarks.