OAKLAND (BCN) – Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts ended what he described as a three-week “roller coaster ride” Friday by announcing that he will stay in Oakland.
Batts, 50, revealed three weeks ago that he was a finalist to become the police chief in San Jose, surprising Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and other city officials who said he had previously assured them he would stay in Oakland, where he has only been chief since October 2009.
On Jan. 27, Batts said he hadn’t been selected for the San Jose job and would stay in Oakland. However, he said he was still in “continuing discussions” with Oakland leaders and hadn’t made a final decision about his future.
KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:
Batts told reporters Friday that conversations with city leaders over the past week and strong support from the community have convinced him to stay in Oakland.
He said city leaders “told me they want me to stay and will work with me to make things better” in terms of getting enough resources for the Police Department to do its job in fighting crime despite Oakland’s budget problems.
“We’re all on the same page,” Batts said.
However, he added that, “We have some dramatic challenges as a city” because Oakland is dealing with what he described as “tough financial times.”
Batts said, “The thing that touched me the most was the outpouring of support from the community.”
He said he received numerous emails, letters and phone calls from community members, including from elementary school and preschool students.
Quan joined Batts at a briefing in West Oakland, where she and the chief knocked on doors to encourage residents to attend a town hall meeting on Saturday.
“I’m very happy Chief Batts is in place,” she said. “I’ve know about his decision for a while and I’m very relieved.”
City Councilwoman Jane Brunner said she thinks it’s “terrific” that Batts is staying in Oakland but said she’s not sure if he will fulfill all of his three-year contract, which doesn’t expire until October 2012.
“I don’t know how long his commitment will be,” Brunner said.
But City Council President Larry Reid said he’s confident that Batts will be in Oakland at least through the end of his contract.
Reid said, “I’m excited” that Batts is staying.
Reid said he believes Batts will now follow through on the reason he came to Oakland in the first place, which Reid said is to “reduce the level of violence and make Oakland a safer place to live, work and raise a family.”
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