A CHP vehicle at a road closure on Highway 13 in Oakland. Credit: Courtesy of CHP

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Over three weekends in September, the California Highway Patrol sent six officers to enforce traffic laws on Oakland corridors and intersections with high-collision rates, and to assist the Oakland Police Department with sideshow activity. 

The enforcement effort came in response to calls from Chinatown leaders seeking a greater police presence on city streets, and was endorsed by Mayor Libby Schaaf who announced the arrangement after speaking with Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

To learn more about what the highway patrol did during those patrols, The Oaklandside filed a request under the California Public Records Act seeking CHP’s records for the operation.

In response, CHP officials in Sacramento released a statistical overview of the September traffic enforcement effort, but did not provide all of the detailed information we asked for. 

The records show that CHP units spent seven days over three weekends patrolling city streets, from Sept. 12 to Sept. 26. These officers were responsible for the following:

  • Made 192 enforcement stops 
  • Issued 143 citations
  • Gave 44 warnings 
  • Arrested 5 people for driving under the influence
  • Recovered 8 stolen vehicles
  • Pursued 5 vehicles
  • And towed two vehicles for drivers who had a suspended license

According to CHP, their officers didn’t carry out any other arrests other than the five DUIs.

The agency did not provide information about where the stops occurred, who was pulled over, and the reason for the stop, but noted that 135 of the citations were for infractions. 

CHP Capt. Stephen Perea told The Oaklandside the infractions were “everything from speeds, running stop signs, moving violations, pedestrian right of way violations” of drivers. The patrols were conducted in the city’s high-injury corridors, and largely in the flatlands of West Oakland and East Oakland, Perea said. 

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on Wednesday said there was a decrease in sideshow activity both on freeways and city streets during the month of September, which he attributed to the CHP’s presence. 

While OPD welcomed the added patrols, several activist groups held protests along with the sister of 23-year-old Erik Salgado, who was shot and killed by CHP officers in East Oakland in June 2020. Some councilmembers expressed concern, including Loren Taylor who attended the rally in Chinatown where residents called for the state to step in. Taylor last year said he couldn’t fully endorse the CHP’s presence without assurance they would abide by OPD’s policies, which are much stricter in terms of when and why an officer can pull someone over. 

Armstrong said he would welcome CHP back, if additional grant money is identified. Mayor Schaaf in December sent a letter to Newsom asking the state to install a network of license plate readers on highway on-ramps and off-ramps in Oakland, as well as once again provide CHP officers to enforce traffic laws on city streets. No funding is currently available for the patrols, the chief said. 

This was not the first time CHP was brought in to help OPD. In 2012 and 2013, the agency offered the city 120 days of “in kind services,” which resulted in thousands of stops and hundreds of arrets. From November 2012 to February 2013, CHP conducted 2,338 stops, gave 1,928 citations and impounded 742 vehicles. Officers made 99 felony arrests, 222 DUI arrests and recovered 14 guns, according to data CHP provided the city at the time.

David DeBolt reports on City Hall and policing for The Oaklandside. He spent 12 years working for daily newspapers in the Bay Area, including on the Peninsula and Solano County. He joined the Bay Area News Group in 2012 where he covered a variety of beats, most recently as a senior breaking news reporter. During his time at BANG, DeBolt covered Oakland City Hall, the Raiders stadium saga and the A’s search for a new ballpark, as well as the Oakland Police Department and police reform efforts. He was part of the East Bay Times staff honored with the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News for coverage of the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.