Removing the most prolific or the most violent criminals can cut the death toll in Oakland’s city’s toughest neighborhoods, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Fewer people are being killed in the city this year than in the past two years, when homicides spiked to their highest totals since 1995. At the current rate, the city will finish 2004 with nearly 20 percent fewer slayings than the 114 killings last year.
Police think part of the reduction is a result of taking men like Vallient Moore and Frank Charles, hardcore criminals who had plagued parts of the city for years, off the streets. Charles, suspected in several killings before being convicted in a 2002 slaying, was an associate of a street gang that was viewed by law enforcement officials as a criminal enterprise. Moore, 41, ruled the streets of West Oakland for years — known by his street nickname of “Knockout” — before being sentenced in 2002 to 25 years to life for his third felony conviction. A suspect in as many as 30 street robberies a year, Moore stopped people in the street, robbed them of their valuables, and beat up anyone who tried to oppose him. He used guns, knives and his own fists as weapons. “We constantly received calls about him robbing people; sometimes people called daily,” said homicide Sgt. Brian Medeiros. “He really was a one-man crime wave.”