Despite perceptions to the contrary, Oakland is not the Wild West.

Many parts of the city aren't any more dangerous than other urban centers in America. But honesty compels us to admit that there are some parts of Oakland that are extremely dangerous.

What's worse, the severely undermanned Oakland Police Department has been unable to properly police those areas. Those struggles have been well detailed in this newspaper.

That is one reason the city's police force has been receiving help from the California Highway Patrol for the past three months.

An SUV with shattered glass and bullet holes sits in front of a home on 65th Avenue in Oakland, Calif., following a shooting that left a 7-year-old girl
An SUV with shattered glass and bullet holes sits in front of a home on 65th Avenue in Oakland, Calif., following a shooting that left a 7-year-old girl visiting the house with non-life-threatening injuries, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. (D. Ross Cameron/Staff)

The CHP is providing extra staffing on an emergency basis free of charge, but its agreement with the city expires at the end of this week. CHP officials say they are willing to extend the agreement but cannot do so without some financial help. It is an investment the city should make.

The CHP is a great stopgap alternative, but it can't be expected to provide free police services indefinitely for every city that has significant crime problems.

Oakland recently contracted with the Alameda County Sheriff's Office for 11 additional officers two days a week. The CHP says it could supply anywhere from eight to 20 officers depending on Oakland's budget.

Relying on other departments is not ideal, but it certainly beats the alternatives and it seems to have worked well in other cities.


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The CHP is just ending a stint where it provided additional officers for the city of Stockton. At the end of January last year, Stockton already had recorded five murders for 2012. So far this year, it has recorded none. It is impossible to say for sure that the added CHP officers contributed to that improvement, but that could be a logical conclusion.

In Oakland's case, the gun violence has been skyrocketing and stemming it should be the city's top three priorities. There is simply no way Oakland can flourish and take its proper leadership place as the economic engine for the East Bay as long as bullets are flying around its streets.

The city already tacitly admitted that it is out of its depth in solving this issue when it approved payment of $250,000 for an outside consulting group with former Los Angeles and New York City Police Chief William Bratton as a principal.

Many have criticized the expenditure, but we see it as a positive because the first step in solving a serious problem is admitting you have one. The hiring of outside help by a city that is as cash-starved as Oakland is such an admission.

Police Chief Howard Jordan has been much more visible lately, especially in response to the wounding of a 7-year-old girl in a drive-by shooting on 65th Avenue on Monday. That, too, is a good sign. As the city's top cop, it is an important part of his job.

But make no mistake, this is not a public-relations campaign, it is a life-and-death struggle for the future of Oakland.