Oakland is on track to close out a particularly violent year, perhaps the most violent since 2008, when the murder total hit 125. Interestingly, the homicide rate can't be blamed on an uptick in gang violence, and the motives for many of these murders are varied and unrelated, including the biggest mass murder in the city's history at Oikos University in April.
The city hit the 100 mark in homicides on October 15, and as of Sunday the number is 115, including four people murdered over the weekend. As the Tribune points out, one of several disturbing trends in the breakdown of 2012's homicides in the city is a rise in the number of female victims. Only 10 of the victims in 2011's count were women, while 22 so far this year have been female. That includes seven women shot at Oikos, a number of domestic violence incidents, and three women killed this past weekend, two of whom were unidentified and found together around 6 a.m. Sunday morning in East Oakland.
Violent crime in Oakland has jumped 23 percent overall over last year, including robberies and non-fatal shootings, and according to a recent piece in the East Bay Express, the OPD and their investigative failures are squarely to blame for that. "Forget what you've seen on CSI," writes Ali Winston. "In Oakland, cases aren't solved by highly trained lab geeks who uncover that single strand of fiber that solves a murder case. Instead, OPD often bases its cases ... solely on eyewitness identifications." Of the 110 homicides in 2011, only 32 have been solved and prosecuted, a clearance rate of 29 percent (compared to the SFPD's clearance rate of 52 percent).
For her part, in a statement yesterday from abroad on a trip to China, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan says, "It is our highest priority as public servants that we provide a safe life for everyone in our city." Nevertheless, it's not a good year for the OPD, especially with all the post-Occupy fallout, the subsequent investigations and lawsuits, and a pending threat by a federal judge of an unprecedented federal takeover of the department. If the murder count tops 2008's, which it still might, you can expect the cries for that takeover to get even louder.
Previously: EBX: Oakland Police Are the Worst