New Oakland police chief sworn in

October 20, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Oakland's new police chief was sworn in on Tuesday night to fight crime in a city with serious problems to solve, but Chief Anthony Batts seems determined to get off to a fast start.

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New police Chief Batts is aware the City Council has high expectations of him.

"My job is to be in the public, I am accountable to the public," says Batts.

A priority is mending the longtime rift between the police department and the citizens they serve.

"Even though some people may have issues with the organization, they may be our detractors. Those are the people we start with and establish relationships. And it's especially important these young people being impacted on the streets... that we establish relationships with our youth in this police organization," says Batts.

Batts served seven years as the police chief in Long Beach. A port city with about the same population as Oakland and a crime rate he helped reduced to its lowest levels since 1975.

"You're going to find that Chief Batts is a very inspirational man. He's going to look to the city to bring a sense of ownership to the issues of the city of Oakland," says Long Beach Department Chief William Blair.

"The biggest thing that I want them to know is I need them," says Batts.

Batts also wants to form a regional partnership similar to the one he had, in Southern California, with longtime friend and new San Francisco Police Chief George Gascone.

Batts has a full plate that includes low morale within his ranks, a high homicide rate, and a political climate that has run three previous chiefs through the mill over a period of just 10 years.

"You can just point at the last chief we had and it wore on him. It wore on him to the point where he quit," says Dom Arotzarena with the Oakland Police Officers' Association.

Now many people are hoping Chief Batts provides the leadership the city has been looking for.

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