HH: Joined now by City of Oakland, California, Council President, Larry Reid. Councilman Reid, welcome. I’m sorry for your tragic day in Oakland today. What can you tell us about the individual who killed all these people?
LR: Well, you know, the individual has been put into custody. He’s being interviewed by our police department. And you know, we lost seven people through an act of senseless violence. And three other people remain in the hospital suffering from gunshot wounds that they received earlier this morning.
HH: Councilman, how long did it take for SWAT to get there? I think they responded very, very quickly.
LR: They did respond very, very quickly. Not only our police officers, but Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Marshals, The Alameda County Sheriff, the city of San Leandro, they all responded very, very quickly.
HH: And the shooter, how did he come to be arrested? Did he turn himself in? Or did police apprehend him after a chase? What was the circumstance there?
LR: Well, you know, I don’t know how he was apprehended. I will learn more at 5:00 when the…all these…brief myself and the mayor and the other members of the Council, and then he will hold a press conference at 6:00, and go into a little bit more detail.
HH: Now Councilman, this is not a gotcha interview. In fact, I see you’re a Cincinnati Bearcat. You’re an Ohioan. You’ve got that going for you.
LR: Where are you from?
HH: But I also…I’m from Ohio. You’re almost from Ohio. Cincinnati almost counts.
HH: I wanted to ask you about, I saw in some of the stories that you’re a backer of increased firearms control in the City of Oakland last year. What is the law in Oakland? And what does an event like today tell you about the efficacy of such controls?
LR: Well, you know, we don’t have any gun dealerships in the City of Oakland, so there are no guns that are sold in our city. A lot of the guns that come into Oakland come from outside of Oakland, whether it’s in Las Vegas, coming from the State of Nevada, and other surrounding states. But you know, there is this incredible proliferation of guns here in the City of Oakland. Prior to the incident that took place today, this is the month of April, we already are way ahead of where we were last year in the number of homicides. We were at 27 homicides. Certainly, the seven people that lost their lives take us to 34. And we’re on a pace to exceed the number of homicides that we had last year. And so you know, we are working to identify the guns, the sources that are bringing these guns into our streets, and take them out of the hands of crazy people. And I’m afraid they’re using them to take another human being’s life.
HH: Councilman, do you think that focusing on criminals and disturbed people, and I’m going to guess your shooter turns out to be what we would call in common parlance crazy, do you think focusing on the individual is smarter than focusing on regulatory regimes? Because it doesn’t seem like even the most relentless regulatory push has anything to do with stopping these kinds of things.
LR: Well, one, we’ve got to figure out how these guns are coming into our city, and how they’re getting into the hands of those individuals, those crazy folks that aren’t afraid to use those weapons. You know, we just recently took about 41 guns off the streets a couple of weeks ago, and you know, we’re working hard to identify those sources. And so you know, we’ve got the U.S. Attorney General’s office that are helping us. But somehow, we’ve got to find a way to take those guns off the streets, so that incidents like today, and incidents that will continue to happen, not just in Oakland, but throughout the United States where guns are used in crime, in taking human beings life.
HH: How is the U.S. Department of Justice helping you in that, what I think is quixotic, and probably a diversion of useful resources? But how is DOJ involved?
LR: Well, you know, they are attempting to work with our police department. You know, last year, we had 830 officers. We’re down to about 650 and some odd officers here in the city with a population of 400,000. If you go and talk to the police officers in the City of Cincinnati, which has a smaller population than the City of Oakland, they have over 1,200 and some odd officers that are out there doing, taking seriously their oath that they took about protecting and serving. This is a city of 400,000. We have 656 officers as we speak. We have a recruiting class in place to make sure that our police department doesn’t drop below 600 officers.
HH: Well, Councilman, I hope you will come back and have a longer…I know you’ve got to go to the press conference. I appreciate you making some time today. I would love to hear more about that, why your budget doesn’t have more officers in it, why California doesn’t support public safety but supports all the crazy stuff California supports. But I really appreciate your making some time today. We’ll continue the conversation. Our condolences on a terrible day in the City of Oakland.
End of interview.