The Oakland City Council approved four crime-fighting measures Wednesday morning, including a controversial measure to hire former New York and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton as a consultant to provide advice to the Oakland Police Department.
The council voted 7-1 to approve hiring Bratton shortly after 2 a.m. today after nearly four hours of public comment on both sides of the issue and more than 45 minutes of discussion by council members as well as Mayor Jean Quan. The council’s chambers were packed as were four overflow rooms elsewhere at City Hall.
The measure expands upon an existing contract with Massachusetts-based Strategic Policy Partnership, which is headed by Robert Wasserman, the former chief of staff of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Clinton.
City Administrators entered into a $99,000 contract with the partnership last fall and today’s vote increases it to $250,000 to pay for the services of Bratton and several other police experts.
After the council voted to approve expanding the contract and hiring Bratton, it then began considering three other crime-fighting measures.
One measure calls for hiring 11 Alameda County sheriff’s deputies for up to 180 days at a cost of up to $265,000 to work ten-hour shifts twice a week on violence suppression efforts in East and West Oakland.
Another measure calls for funding an additional police academy to start in September that would train new officers. The additional academy would supplement a police academy that began last fall and a second academy that will begin in March.
The third measure would hire 20 police service technicians at a cost of $1.5 million to be assigned to field duty as well as one crime lab position.
Oakland had as many as 837 police officers four years ago, but Police Chief Howard Jordan said earlier this week that it has only 613 and he would like to have 1,000 officers.
According to Mayor Quan’s spokesman Sean Maher, the three additional crime-fighting measures were also approved early this morning.
Many of the more than 100 speakers who addressed the council at their lengthy meeting said they oppose the appointment of Bratton because they believe he supports aggressive police measures including one commonly called “stop and frisk.”
But Jordan told the council that, “There’s no discussion of using stop and frisk and I don’t support it.”
Adam Blueford, the father of 18-year-old Alan Blueford, who was fatally shot by an Oakland police officer in a confrontation last May 6, told the council, “This stop and frisk will blow up in your face” and predicted that more young people such as his son will be killed by police.
“I’m speaking against Bill Bratton and stop and frisk,” Blueford said.
But Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Baptist Church, which is located in East Oakland, said, “It’s a war zone and we need a Bill Bratton and I support the chief (Jordan.)”
Jackson said the four crime-fighting measures represent “the help we desperately need in Oakland because young black and brown boys are getting killed.”
He said, “Desperate times require desperate measures and we’re desperate.”
City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said the four anti-crime measures “work as a comprehensive whole.”
However, she admitted that, “They won’t solve Oakland’s crime problems overnight” and are only “a six-month fix” until the council votes on a new budget in June that could bring more help to the city’s understaffed Police Department.
The lone council member to vote against expanding the contract with the Strategic Policy Partnership and hiring Bratton was Councilwoman Desley Brooks.
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