OAKLAND — Mayor Ron Dellums said Monday night that Oakland "ought to be able to exceed" the drop in crime it saw in 2009, using his State of the City for the second straight year to set a major crime-reduction goal.
Oakland remains one of the nation's most violent cities, but reports of serious crime dropped by 10 percent in 2009 and are down 27 percent in 2010 compared with this time last year, police statistics show.
"We will improve upon positive crime trends this current year," he said. "As I said, we (met) a 10 percent reduction goal last year, and it seems to me if we can do 10 percent (last) year, we ought to be able to exceed that this coming year."
Dellums' remarks in his third — and possibly final — State of the City address followed police Chief Anthony Batts' frank assessment last week of the city's crime problems.
"Even when we make tremendous strides, we have a long way to go here in the city of Oakland," Batts said Thursday.
Dellums attributed the drop in crime Oakland has seen so far to street outreach and mentoring programs such as the Our Kids program, aimed at helping at-risk children.
He also said the city's efforts to help those coming out of prison are paying off and gave credit to the Police Department. He said the city will use "lateral" police academies — where officers are hired from other law-enforcement agencies — to keep the Police Department fully staffed at 803 officers. The current staffing level is about 775.
Dellums' speech lasted 2 hours, 3 minutes, and focused more on the past year than on specific plans for 2010.
Dellums, who frequently goes without notes, appeared to read off note cards and touched on a broad number of topics ranging from Oakland's work to land federal stimulus dollars to the city's work with the school district. At one point, he even poked fun at his personal tax problems.
He also said he thinks the city is still in a good position as the Oakland A's management is hoping to relocate the team to San Jose — a move that would require the approval of three-quarters of baseball's owners.
A's co-owner Lew Wolff introduced San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed during Reed's State of the City speech Thursday. Wolff's designs aside, Dellums predicted that Oakland would remain an option as a possible home for the A's. He said he is "absolutely confident" the city will be contacted by baseball officials "within the next several days."
"I believe based on how we conducted ourselves "... that we will still be in the game," he said, "because we said, 'Here's where we are. We hope that you will come back to us so that we go can to the next level.' "