(NewsNation) — Oakland residents are frustrated and community leaders are demanding answers after the city missed an opportunity to receive millions of dollars in state crime-fighting funds.
Cities and counties across California have been receiving funds from the state to address ongoing retail theft problems. The city of San Francisco received about $17 million to combat the issue.
However, the city of Oakland received no finding, and the reason for this is quite simple: City officials missed the deadline to apply for the special state grant. Officials attribute the oversight to a technical issue.
Yet, residents and small business owners in the community aren’t accepting this explanation from their local leaders and are frustrated.
NewsNation spoke to a Chinatown community leader and a business owner who was recently robbed, both of whom shared their frustrations regarding the city’s failure to meet the application deadline.
“They came in and smashed both of the windows,” said Robert Holt, co-owner of Marzano Restaurant. “That night they hit 12-15 businesses in Oakland.”
Business owners expressed to NewsNation that when they become victims of crime and call 911, they often find themselves on hold for more than 30 minutes.
In some cases, police officers don’t even arrive in a timely manner, which has led many businesses in Oakland to make difficult decisions. Some are closing their stores early to avoid being open at night, while others are closing down completely in an effort to prioritize the safety of their employees.
Sources told NewsNation that local officials are exploring other grants and partnerships as they seek ways to secure funding to combat retail theft.
However, when it comes to addressing crime in the city, Oakland faces numerous issues. One significant issue is that the Oakland Police Department is severely understaffed, lacking enough officers to effectively patrol the city.
“People are desperate, in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Oakland,” said Seneca Scott, founded of Neighbors Together Oakland. “It’s untenable and we got to do something about it now.”
Residents’ frustration has reached a boiling point, leading to their demand for the recall of District Attorney Pamela Price. Additionally, small business owners have announced plans for a one-day strike, scheduled for Tuesday, with the aim of highlighting the failures in public safety within the community.