OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The Oakland City Council heard public comment Tuesday night on four crime-fighting proposals that proponents say will help Oakland reduce its high crime rate.
The most controversial measure, and the one that is attracting the most speakers, calls for hiring former New York and Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton as a consultant to expand 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 Bill Clinton.
Activists from groups including Occupy Oakland and the Stop the Injunction Coalition oppose the appointment of Bratton because they believe he supports aggressive police measures including one commonly called “stop and frisk.”
But Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told the City Council at the beginning of its hearing on the Bratton proposal that, “There’s no discussion of using stop and frisk and I don’t support it.”
Instead, Jordan said he wants to stop suspects only based on reasonable suspicion and within the bounds of the Constitution.
The other three measures that the City Council considered include 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, funding an additional police academy to start in September that would train new officers and hiring 20 police service technicians at a cost of $1.5 million to be assigned to field duty as well as one crime lab position.
The additional academy would supplement a police academy that began last fall and a second academy will begin in March.
Oakland had as many as 837 police officers four years ago but Jordan said earlier this week that it currently has only 613 and ideally he would like to have 1,000 officers.
The council’s discussion on the four anti-crime measures began around 9:25 p.m. and City Clerk LaTonda Simmons said more than 260 people signed up to speak on the proposal to hire Bratton.
Additional people have also signed up to discuss the other three proposals, which could be discussed early Wednesday.
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” and she hopes all four are approved at the meeting that began Tuesday night.
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.
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