Why The Bratton / Wasserman Proposal Should Be Adopted By Oakland’s City Council

Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee will vote on whether to forward to Council a proposal to add $250,000 to the City’s public safety consulting contract with Strategic Policy Partnership.  This is the Robert Wasserman, Chief William Bratton proposal that we discussed here.  We strongly encourage Oaklanders to come and support this proposal.

The proposal is starting to run into opposition based on two arguments that either misstate or misunderstand what the proposal is:  The first argument goes something like this:  Oakland has already spent, is already spending or going to spend millions on outside Occupy investigators, on a a Federal Court monitor, on a Compliance Director, why do we have to spend money on this as well?

It is true that Oakland is spending an enormous amount of money on its struggle to comply with the NSA.  However, none of that has to do with the subject of this proposal, which designed to do something Oakland is clearly unable to do for itself:  design and implement short and long-term crime reduction strategies.

Oakland does not have, and never has had a comprehensive public safety plan coordinating multi-agency programmatic and law enforcement approaches to violence and crime prevention.  Some critics have pointed to the 2006 Harnett Report.  That organization made several solid policing recommendations that should have been implemented and were not. But Harnett did not claim it was providing a comprehensive public safety program.  We know that Mr. Wasserman is already taking an inventory on everything agencies and non-profits to in Oakland do to combat crime, and those steps are a key element of the coordinated approach MOBN! has advocated.  Furthermore  OPD command staff admits it does not have the resources to provide a comprehensive plan.  This fact is pretty clear to just about everyone.

There is a tendency in Oakland, as in  many agencies, to contract for reports and then ignore them.  A certain amount of cynicism about what will happen to the plan is healthy,  logical and understandable.  But Oaklanders will have to be tenacious in demanding that the Wasserman / Bratton recommendations are fully implemented.  The probability that some elements in the City may want to ignore those recommendations is no reason to avoid getting us the help we need. It will be the job of the public to force City government to move them forward.

The second opposing argument goes like this:  Chief Bratton was police commissioner in New York City.  New York City police used “stop and frisk” policing.  Stop and frisk policing is used for racial profiling.  Therefore, Oakland should not contract with Chief Bratton.

This argument is so misleading in so many ways.  There is nothing whatsoever in the proposal to suggest that “stop and frisk” has anything to do with what Wasserman and Bratton are planning to recommend.   Oakland is operating under the NSA and will shortly be operating under a compliance director, so there is going to be plenty of machinery in place to prevent Oakland from turning further away from Constitutional policing.  Those making this argument fail to mention Chief Bratton’s experiences in Los Angeles, where he navigated the department out of Federal Court supervision, dramatically reduced claims for police misconduct (as well as crime), was widely admired by much of the Civil Rights bar, and where, shortly after he left, the Federal Court lauded the department for setting national and international standards for modern policing.

Furthermore, in his meetings with MOBN! representatives and other community leaders, Wasserman has made it clear that community involvement and community buy-in will be essential to the success of the plan.  Staff’s report reiterates that community involvement is a high priority.  There is simply no reason to think this is an effort to ram any particular police tactic down the community’s throat.

MOBN!’s letter to the committee is here.  We will appear at the meeting to strongly urge adoption of this proposal.

To contact members of the City Council Public Safety Committee in support of this badly needed measure, e-mail the following:

Libby Schaaf:  lschaaf@oaklandnet.com

Noel Gallo (chair):  ngallo@oaklandnet.com

Dan Kalb:  dkalb@oaklandnet.com

Lynette Gibson-McElhaney: lgibson-mcelhaney@oaklandnet.com

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Paul B

    The unnamed author of the unsigned article fails to mention several other arguments against Bratton, including the waste of $250,000 to pay him as a consultant/private contractor, Bratton’s support for the further militarization of police departments (also a waste of taxpayer money), and that Bratton has a vested interest as a private contractor to twist statistics and data to portray himself as a crime stopper when there may not actually be any correlation between his policies and crime trends.

  2. if our local economy in east oakand got better – we would have less violence, but like i say – entire groups rise and fall, kind of by riding this issue like a horse. . .

  3. Kodi

    I strongly support the Bratton/Wasserman proposal. It is truly amazing that an entire nation can be emotionally riveted regarding the tragic school shooting of 26 people by a severely disturbed man in Connecticut (who should have been in residential treatment — mental health treatment — a topic for another time) when an entire city of 380,000 (Oakland) continues to keep its blinders firmly in place while more than 130 people are wantonly killed in 2012 including 5 innocent children!! Paul B — your attitude is what is wrong with this city. You and people like you (unfortunately appearing to be the majority by the loudness of your voices) would rather make 1000 excuses about far fetched potential “abuse” of the “civil rights” of criminals by police than display any concern about the ACTUAL civil rights abuse of thousands of honest Oakland citizens who are not free to go about their daily lives without fear of mayhem and murder being visited upon themselves and their families. And given the $10 million of city money that was dispensed to pay off the so-called victims of the “Riders” (who were never convicted) case that started this whole mess, $250,000 is but a drop in the bucket toward a much more noble cause!

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