By Post Staff
Hundreds of protesters filled Oakland City Council chambers this week to oppose spending $250,000 to give a short-term contract to nationally recognized police consultant Bill Bratton. After five hours of passionate speeches by community members Tuesday evening at the Council’s Public Safety Committee, the four-member committee sent the resolution to hire Brattton to the full City Council for a decision at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.
The resolution was modified, however, saying the police chief could consider hiring a consultant other than Bratton, former Los Angeles police chief and New York City police commissioner.
The controversy is based on Bratton’s connection to New York police department’s stop and frisk policy, which critics say frequently results in racial profiling and the harassment and unwarranted searches of Black and Latino young men. New York police stopped and searched “700,000 people last year, and what did they come up with? A handful of weapons. What this (policy) is doing is stigmatizing people on the basis of race and age and what neighborhood they live in,” said Dan Siegel, Oakland civil rights attorney. ¨
Hiring Bratton would essentially mean “the city would be thumbing its nose at (federal) Judge Thelton Henderson,” who is requiring Oakland to eliminate practices that amount to racial profiling of Oakland residents, said Siegel.
Given that a federal compliance director has not been yet appointed to oversee the police department, why is the city rushing to hire a consultant before the federal appointee has a chance to weigh in on the decision? Asks Rashidah Grinage, head of PUEBLO in Oakland, which has been active of many years promoting the accountability of police to Oakland residents.
¨The police chief is saying Bratton is not coming here to do stop and frisk,” said Grinage. “But Bratton said in a television interview that any city that does not implement some kind of stop and frisk is doomed to failure. ¨
According to Grinage, “Three of the four council members (on the Public Safety Committee) said they had not yet seen Bratton’s contract. Why were they being asked to vote on something they hadn’t seen?”
In addition, she said, Bratton will be paid $250,000 for just a few weeks’ work. “Some people say it’s for three months, but I heard three weeks,” she said.