Is Oakland Wasting Money on Bratton?

Bill Bratton

By Kitty Kelly Epstein In light of Oakland’s increase in homicides in 2012, the Oakland city administrator is asking the City Council to hire as a consultant William Bratton, who brought “stop and frisk” to New York and Los Angeles and who argues that some form of the policy is necessary in all cities. In New York this policy, under which police stop 700,000 residents per year without probable cause, is opposed by a majority of New Yorkers, including 75 percent of African American residents. It has been criticized as racial profiling by organizations and individuals ranging from a federal judge to the ACLU, NAACP and the SEIU. In a recent interview on KCBS, Bratton argued that all cities have to use some form of “stop and frisk” and that his $250,000 proposed contract with Oakland is “very small.” There are a dozen good reasons why this approach does not belong in Oakland. Perhaps the most important one is this: Oakland dramatically reduced its homicide rate between 2006 and 2010 using a very different strategy. But in 2012, homicides are back up to 126. Why? Because the Dellums administration (2007-10) had a multipronged crime reduction strategy, which produced stronger community involvement, better prevention and stronger enforcement. First, Dellums got control of police deployment, including hours and use of overtime, because he was not dependent on the contributions or endorsements of the Oakland Police Officers Association. Neither of the police chiefs he employed, first Wayne Tucker and then Anthony Batts, had been part of the Oakland Police Department insider culture that led to unreasonable police contracts and the policeabuse of residents revealed in the “Riders” case, which resulted in federal court intervention. Second, during this period, the city engaged in an expansive form of community involvement. Some 150 diverse residents developed public safety policy proposals, most of which were adopted. For example, one proposal called for an intense focus on the needs of individuals returning to the city from jail or prison. These individuals were invited to City Hall for respectful orientations on jobs, education and involvement in the life of the city; a Day Reporting Center was built; public works jobs were obtained for some; and so on. Third, in spite of funding challenges, the city found federal, state and local resources to fully staff the police department at 837 officers, compared with the current staffing of 613 officers. Further, the total economic development approach supported the most critical of public safety deterrents – jobs for residents.
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