Oakland Approves Bratton After 9-Hour Meeting

After a nine-hour Oakland City Council meeting, members voted 7-1 to hire  former Los Angeles and New York police chief - Bill Bratton - to help the city with its horrific violence.

Over shouts of "Shame on You!" and "Let the war begin," the vote came at 2 a.m. Wednesday to hire Bratton as a consultant for $250,000 to help the police department curb its rising crime rate. Councilwoman Desley Brooks was the lone "no" vote.

Bratton is wide respected in many policing circles, but some vocal members of the community don't like his "stop and frisk" policies and his support of curfews and gang injunctions.

Bratton was not at the contentioius meeting, but previously told NBC Bay Area that he was "excited" about coming to Oakland, but had no "fantasies" about helping the struggling city.

Jessica Hollie was one of the many who opposed hiring Bratton because she feels his policies will put young men of color in jeopardy. "We just have unfortunate skin color and I hate to say it that way because I have pride in who I am," she said.

But others, including some church leaders, came out in support of Bratton, whom they hope can stop the bloodshed.

"If Bill Bratton will stop the bloodshed then we need Bratton," Bishop Bob Jackson said.

Included in the vote was an amendment emphasizing that whatever policies follow from the consulting will not permit any racial profiling. Over the past week, both police Chief Howard Jordan and Mayor Jean Quan had stated  that racial profiling will not be tolerated in the police department.

Quan wrote a letter following the vote, part of which read, "“The goals of fighting crime and improving police relationships in our communities are not at odds with each other. Instead, they are crucial to one another, and one cannot be done without the other. I believe Bratton can help us improve the department on both fronts, but in the end, the responsibility for OPD policy is not his: it is Chief Jordan’s and mine."

She added that Bratton's job will be to give  Jordan the best information and the smartest advice he can, and Jordan's job will be to consider that advice and take accountability for the final decisions.

Quan noted that Bratton can be a controversial figure, but she also pointed out that the American Civil Liberties Union in Los Angeles reported a dramatic drop in police-related complaints during Bratton’s tenure as chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. He was there from 2002 to 2009, and during that time, oversaw a 45 percent drop in major crimes and a 41 percent drop in homicies.

Oakland council members also voted to remove funding restrictions on what will be the city's third police academy in the past year, add 21 civilian staffers so that officers will have more time for crime-fighting, and bring in Alameda County sheriff's deputies to help patrol the city.

So far this year, Oakland has had six homicides. In 2012, there were 131.

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