Oakland names new top cop

August 12, 2009 5:42:16 PM PDT
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums announced today that he has chosen Long Beach Police Chief Anthony Batts to head the Oakland Police Department.

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Batts has been with the Long Beach Police Department for nearly 30 years and has served as chief for seven.

During his time as chief, the crime rate in Long Beach fell to its lowest level since 1975 and officer-involved shootings decreased by 70 percent, according to Dellums' office.

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Dellums said in a statement that Batts has the right background for the job.

"Coming from a similar-sized port city with one of the most diverse populations in the country, Chief Batts understands the complexity of running an urban police department and implementing change to improve the quality of life in Oakland and engage the community to enhance public safety," Dellums said.

The announcement comes less than six months after four Oakland police officers were shot to death by a wanted parolee on March 21.

Oakland City Councilwoman Jean Quan said this afternoon she thinks Batts will be "a good match."

She said that although she has not met Batts, she "Googled" his name and was pleased with the information she found.

"He has a record of bringing down crime," Quan said. "He's well educated, he has very broad skills. He obviously is committed to urban areas."

Quan said she believes Batts' commitment to the community will be a huge asset.

"He's a strong supporter of community policing and working with neighbors to take on local crime issues," Quan said.

Dominique Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said he is glad the Police Department has chosen a new chief but that he wishes the new chief had been selected from within the department, which would have made room for promotions and helped officers advance.

"The bottom line is, we got a guy who is very good," Arotzarena said. "He has a lot of credentials, and we're hoping that he can come in here and ... work with the union and take on all these challenges."

Arotzarena pointed out that Batts will come into a difficult situation.

"We have a dangerous city right now," he said. "Our budget's hurting."

Until Batts officially assumes his new post in September, Howard Jordan will remain on as acting chief. Jordan was appointed as acting police chief after Chief Wayne Tucker announced his retirement in January.

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