Oakland, California's top cop asked for more police officers Tuesday to bolster his force amid staffing shortages as authorities seek to address the growing number of homicides and to disrupt large groups of looters targeting retail stores. 

While speaking to reporters, Chief LeRonne Armstrong began with a moment of silence for the city's 127 murder victims — one second for each — including a retired San Jose officer who died over the weekend after he was shot while protecting a San Francisco television news crew. A former Oakland police officer who once led the department's gun and gang intervention program is recovering from injuries after he was shot during a gas station robbery in October. 

After the tribute, Armstrong then discussed his department's need for more officers. 


Nishita, a retired police officer and armed guard who provided security for many reporters in the region, was shot in the abdomen during an attempted robbery of KRON-TV's camera equipment in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021. The news crew was covering a recent smash-and-grab robbery of a clothing store. (KTVU)

Currently, the Oakland Police Department has 677 sworn officers, one fewer than the 678 required as part of a voter-approved parcel tax measure. 

"That is the smallest staff that we've had in several years," he said. "It is it wholly lower than the staffing we had at this same time last year where we had 740 officers." 

His remarks came a day after Mayor Libby Schaaf told city leaders she plans to submit a revised plan to hire more officers, including adding an additional police academy class. One current class of 39 recruits is expected to graduate in April. 

Oakland police investigators at the scene of a fatal shooting at a gas stationwhere a former Oakland police captain was shot and a robbery suspect was killed.  (KTVU)

Another 26 recruits will graduate on Dec. 26, and they will be put into patrol positions immediately, Armstrong said. 

He said the department is looking for ways to attract more applicants, including officers from other law enforcement agencies, which it previously had sought out. 

In response to roving armed caravan robberies and retail store thefts, the chief said he's deployed tactical teams to prime locations to deter or respond to any incidents of theft or otherwise. He noted that many of the suspects are not residents of the city. 

"What we've seen over and over again is a trend of a group of individuals that sometimes are not even from Oakland come and commit multiple burglaries," he said. "As high as 30 burglaries in one particular hour period."

The chief noted that he believes the groups are "far more coordinated than we thought they were" and make calculated decisions to offend in certain cities. 

Looters ransack an Oakland pharmacy earlier this month in a smash-and-grab burglary. ( )


In an effort to stem the number of burglaries, authorities will work with other city departments like Public Works to ask that barriers be placed in certain areas where vehicular traffic can be cut off to prevent looters from escaping.