After a grueling nine-hour meeting, the Oakland City Council early Wednesday approved a host of measures aimed at reversing a deadly rise in crime, including a consulting contract with former Los Angeles police chief William Bratton.
It was Bratton’s role that sparked the greatest controversy. Hundreds of people packed the council chambers and four overflow rooms to weigh in on the contract, which will go not directly to Bratton but to Strategic Policy Partnership, a consulting firm headed by former Houston police chief Robert Wasserman.
Wasserman had sought to bring Bratton in as a sub-consultant, and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and current police Chief Howard Jordan advocated strongly for him in recent weeks, calling him “a brilliant mind in policing.”
The situation is dire. Oakland has lost a quarter of its sworn police force over the last four years. And 2012 saw a 23% jump in violent crimes over the previous year. Officers are so overburdened with 911 calls that they have no time for proactive policing, officials say. Burglaries have soared by nearly 50%.
The discord, finally put to rest by a 7-1 vote at 2:07 a.m. to approve the contract, centered around Bratton’s use of “stop and frisk” policies while heading the nation’s two largest departments -- in New York City and Los Angeles.
Quan, Jordan and several council members have stressed repeatedly that Oakland would steer clear of racial profiling. After all, the city is under strict monitoring by a federal judge as it attempts to comply with a decade-old settlement agreement that stemmed from the beating and framing of African American residents in West Oakland.