Facing Legal Pressure, Oakland Police Announce Tip Line, Gang Initiative

Under legal pressure, Oakland police are unveiling two new programs they hope will help fight the spike in violent crime in the city.

Howard Jordan became police chief of Oakland in February 2012. (Mina Kim/KQED)

Five men were shot to death in a 18-hour period Monday night and Tuesday in the city. At the same time, pressure is mounting on the police to account for recent shootings by police.

At a media conference Thursday, police announced a new anonymous text-message system to report crimes. "Anyone out on the street can pull out their phone and go as if they were sending a text message, to the number 888-777, and put in the words 'tip OPD,'" said Travis Scott of Nixle, the company offering the technology.

Simultaneously the police commanders said they are launching "Operation Cease-fire," a program that imposes tough penalties on gang leaders.

But East Oakland minister Bishop Bob Jackson said these initiatives are not enough.


"I mean the ceasefire movement will take a while to put into effect," he told KQED's Andrew Stelzer. "The police officers that are in training right now, they’ll take a while for them to hit the street. I’m talking about some instant action that we need right now. That we need yesterday."

Police Chief Howard Jordan said the 5 recent killings were unrelated and targeted, and there are some leads and witnesses.

He refused to answer questions about a filing Thursday by attorneys asking a judge to put the department under federal receivership. The motion by attorneys John Burris and Jim Chanin asks San Francisco U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson to impose a federal receiver to oversee the department. The attorneys say that Oakland city officials and the police have not kept their promises to reform the department after a 2003 lawsuit claimed brutality and other malfeasance.

Jordan also had little to say about a report from a court-imposed federal monitor that faults the department for fatally shooting suspects.

Instead he cited statistics from a report by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“But just to put things into context," he said, "the IACP just released a report that states that 58 thousand law enforcement officers were feloniously assaulted last year. You have the 4th most dangerous city in America. These are challenges that my officers face very single day."