OAKLAND (KCBS / KPIX 5) – Starting Saturday, Oakland will take a big step towards fully implementing its neighborhood policing plan by assigning officers to one of five newly identified districts in the city.
The goal is to keep officers within these narrowly defined areas to improve response times and allow captains in charge of each district to have greater say over distribution and use of resources.
“So we’re (re-organizing) the department to allow the captains to more quickly respond to crime patterns in their area,” explained interim police chief Sean Whent.
“It’s kind of the first major step of implementing the crime prevention plan that the city paid the contractors for,” he added. “So, we’re starting.”
Former Los Angeles police chief William Bratton is among those paid consultants who recommended changes in the wake of skyrocketing crime throughout Oakland.
Bratton visited department headquarters on Tuesday to help implement the strategy. He told KPIX 5 that it will take some time to solve the city’s crime problems.
“There is no quick fix, if you will. No silver bullet,” Bratton said.
Bratton also weighed in on the recent shakeups in department leadership. On May 8th, Chief Howard Jordan announced his retirement, citing medical issues. Jordan’s replacement, Interim Chief Anthony Toribio, stepped down from the post two days later, leading to Whent being appointed Interim Chief.
“It’s a hiccup. There’s no risk of derailing the plans that have been made,” Bratton said.
Bratton said he will meet with the new district captains this week and make sure everything goes according to plan.
“The captain would be effectively the mini chief of that area. He would be the go-to person for the local neighborhood residents,” Bratton said.
While the implementation is moving along, what concerned Bratton is the number of players involved with fixing Oakland Police. The department has to answer to a compliance director, a federal judge, Mayor Jean Quan and at the same time, work with the consulting team Bratton heads.
“The secret to success in Oakland is going to be the collaboration and the coordination between the many players,” he said.
Bratton acknowledged the shortage of police officers is also a concern, but would not tell KPIX 5 what kind of impact it would have on the strategy. He said the most important thing now is to finish the decentralization of the department.
“I always remain optimistic. I don’t go any place to lose,” he said.
This new district deployment plan will be executed in conjunction with a crackdown on sideshows, announced Monday by the Oakland Police Department.
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