Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong plans to announce a new initiative Wednesday to combat violent crime in the city as an alarming number of lives have been lost.
The chief will be using a video of two NBC Bay Area colleagues who were held up at gunpoint when two men tried to steal a camera.
Surveillance video outside City Hall captured a normal day of two very experienced journalists who have spent most of their career covering the East Bay.
On that day, they just happen to be interviewing the newly appointed chief of violence prevention for the city of Oakland, Guillermo Cespedes.
The video shows two young men leaving a car parked on 14th Street in front of City Hall, heading towards the reporters’ location.
The reporter is focused on her interview as one of the men approaches the photographer, puts his hand on the camera and then points a gun into the photographer’s body.
There was a brief standoff with the reporter stuck in the middle. In a 10-second flash, the reporter sees weapons drawn. The photographer pushes away from the handgun and tells him to take the camera. Then one of the suspects points the gun towards his face.
At the same time, NBC Bay Area’s hired guard pulls his weapon and points it at the thieves as he walks into the picture. They run away without the camera, with guns still drawn and hop into the getaway car.
Afterwards, Cespedes tells the reporter why he believes the incident reinforces the need for alternative approaches to controlling violence.
“It brings to the surface precisely why Oakland needs to do this,” he said. “Very angry people responding to violence and we have to stop it.”
During the Fourth of July weekend, Oakland was overwhelmed with shootings, killings, illegal fireworks and sideshows.
The police department is not fully staffed, it’s authorized to have 788 officers, but only has 714 right now.
“It’s ridiculous we really have this as a story,” said City Councilmember Loren Taylor, reacting to NBC Bay Area’s camera crew being held up at gunpoint. “Those reporting on the crime actually experienced gun violence or the threat of it experienced exactly what my residents go through in East Oakland.”
A life changing experience for two NBC Bay Area employees, but unfortunately it’s something many other people are also dealing with in the Bay Area.