Oakland TV crew robbed at gunpoint hours after police chief slams $18M budget cut amid homicide surge

Oakland police chief goes viral with remarks on violent crime ‘crisis’: Armstrong

Oakland, California Chief of Police Leronne Armstrong on big cities’ crime spiking as lawmakers defund the police.

A pair of robbers in Oakland, California, held up a television news crew at gunpoint just hours after the city’s police chief warned of safety concerns following officials’ decision to slash his department’s budget by more than $18 million, police said. 

The news crew was filming an interview with the city’s director of violence prevention outside City Hall around 3 p.m. local time Monday when two armed suspects tried to take their camera, the Oakland Police Department said in a statement. A scuffle broke out and a private security guard, contracted by the news agency, pulled out his gun and told the robbers to leave.

The suspects fled without the camera and no one was hurt, police said.

At the time, the crew was interviewing Guillermo Cespedes, head of the city’s Department of Violence Prevention, the police department confirmed.

The robbery attempt occurred just hours after Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong asked City Council members to put “politics aside” and place people’s lives “before political agendas” when speaking about their decision to cut the department’s budget by $18 million.

“Far too often in these meetings we are talking about numbers. We are talking about money and costs,” Armstrong said at the time. “I don’t know what the cost of a life is. But I know not having resources makes our city less safe.”

Much of the funds will be diverted to the Department of Violence Prevention, which was created in 2017 with the goal of decreasing homicides by 80% over three years, The San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The city has recorded 65 homicides so far in 2021, compared to the 35 counted at this time last year, the department said. 

Speaking exclusively to “Fox News Primetime” on Tuesday, Armstrong said he did not believe that the city needed to “reduce police forces in order to achieve safety.”

“We believe that we need more resources to address the high spike in crime in the city of Oakland,” the city’s top cop said, “and that’s really what I have been asking for – more support and resources to address the serious issue we are facing here.”

Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Charles Creitz contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press. 

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