Oakland Police Tragedy Made New Top Cop Want the Job

Incoming police chief wants "to help"

Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009  |  Updated 2:24 PM PDT
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Images: Oakland Police Shooting

Long Beach Police Department

This is the man who will take over the police department in Oakland.

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Oakland's new top cop says the department's March tragedy and its aftermath motivated him to take the job.

At his first news conference in Oakland on Monday, the former Long Beach police chief said he initially turned away a recruiter for the job. But after seeing the department deal with the deaths of four Oakland officers, Batts says he texted the recruiter saying, "I want to help."

Wanted parolee Lovelle Mixon shot and killed officer John Hege and sergeants Mark Dunakin, Erv Romans and Daniel Sakai after a traffic stop went horribly wrong March 21.

Never in the history of any Bay Area police department have so many officers been killed on the same day.

Batts, 49, has led Long Beach's department since 2002, has been credited with lowering that city's crime rate to its lowest level in over 30 years. He's taking over an 800-officer department in a city which had a homicide rate three times that of Long Beach last year, according to state figures.

He is expected to begin his job as chief next month.

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