Oakland Sounds Off on Plan to Consult With Bratton
The Oakland City Council will decide at its meeting whether to go ahead with a plan to bring in former New York and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton as a consultant to the Oakland Police Department.
But a packed meeting of the council's Public Safety Committee Tuesday night made it clear that even with the city in the midst of a spike in violent crime, many residents aren't happy with the idea.
East Oakland resident Qaid Aqeel said, "If you were to bring this gentleman into the community, he’s not going to be well received, because the community, they’re already familiar with his policies."
Those policies include tactics like stopping and frisking people on the street, which Bratton recently went on record as supporting.
After hours of public comment, council member Lynette Gibson McElhaney asked Strategic Policy Partnership, the firm which Oakland would be contracting with, to reconsider bringing in Bratton. "I wonder if his reputation is so toxic that he cannot be effective here, as he seemingly was in other cities," she said.
But Councilmember Libby Schaaf praised Bratton’s work. He's credited with reforming Los Angeles and New York departments and with reducing crime.
"There is no city in the history of America that has seen the type of crime reduction that New York City has seen," Schaaf said. "Don’t we want to say that we reduced crime in Oakland by more than 80 percent?"
Bratton supporter Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel Church asked the committee to take action to prevent more killings.
"We’ve had six homicides already this year and we’ve had 15 shootings," Jackson said. "If you add that together it’s 21, and it’s not even the 21st day of January yet. If Bill Bratton can do something, about the bleeding in the African-American community in particular, I’m for Bill Bratton."
The City Council's Finance Committee also met Tuesday night. It approved a new police academy class, a contract for patrols by the Alameda County Sheriff's Department, and hiring 21 civilians to free Oakland police officers from desk jobs so they can return to the streets.