Members of Oakland's public safety committee approved hiring William Bratton for $250,000 to help the Oakland Police Department, even though there were many protests against it. Jean Elle reports.
Even as city leaders in Oakland on Tuesday moved to spend more than $5.5 million to hire more cops and a world-renowned police consultant, critics came out out to say they don't approve of many plans moving forward in a city struggling with violence.
On Tuesday afternoon, the city council’s Committee on Finance and Management approved a proposal to fund ten Alameda County sheriff's deputies to patrol in Oakland for at least 90 days and up to six months; pay for 21 new civilian Oakland police employees like police technicians; and authorize a police academy in June. These items will be voted on by the full council on Jan. 22.
“Having enough police officers is the key – and we must take action now,” City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan said. “When Oakland had the voter-mandated police staffing level, crime went down 15 percent for two years in a row.”
Later in the evening, the city's public safety committee approved a $250,000 contract to hire William Bratton - the former police chief in New York and Los Angeles - to help the Oakland Police Department manage the city's rising crime rates and deal with other issues plaguing the department, like police brutality in the wake of the Occupy movement. But, after listening to loud protests, agreed to reserve the right to assess whether Bratton will be on the team.
So far this year, Oakland has had six homicides. In 2012, there were 131. Before the contract was approved, there were protesters who packed the council chambers to criticize the efforts, and Bratton.
Protesters including groups such as the Critical Resistance and the Stop the Injunctions Coalition, however, aren't too thrilled with simply adding more police and spending top dollar to hire Bratton, some of whose policies they say they don't like.
Specifically, the protesters don't agree with Bratton's “zero tolerance” police strategies, and other methods including gang injunctions, curfews and anti-loitering ordinances. The protesters will be out to demand the city reject a contract with Bratton, and instead work with community members that are "inclusive and sustainable."