Oakland mayor, police chief meet

October 28, 2009 7:53:05 PM PDT
Oakland's new police chief is laying out his vision to transform the department. One of the first controversies he is dealing with is the city's illegal car rallies and the mayor's suggestion to sanction some of the sideshows.

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Within days after being sworn into office last week, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts has already swung into action.

This weekend he ordered heavy duty resources to crack down on sideshows -- the dangerous, sometimes deadly car events. Officers issued 200 citations and made multiple felony arrests. This as Mayor Ron Dellums has suggested perhaps sanctioning some drag racing.

The chief says "Illegal activity will not be allowed in any form, but if there's something we can do productive for youth that may include cars, that is safe and legal, we will support that, but anything outside of that is unacceptable."

He also believes organizers of illegal sideshows should be prosecuted.

"Those that organize this, and if it turns out into a loss of life on the streets of Oakland, they should be held accountable for that," says Chief Batts.

It was the loss of life within the police department itself that convinced the 49-year-old to leave his post in Long Beach and take the chief's job in Oakland. It was the murders in March of four Oakland officers, and members of the SWAT team, that persuaded Chief Batts to come.

Chief Batts says that unit has since been retooled and took first place in an international urban terrorism drill this weekend.

"There's a perception that the team is not as good as it should be and they're showing you how good they are," says Chief Batts.

The new chief is taking over what he calls a proud department. He says crime has declined from last year.

"The murder rate in this city is down 19 percent, shootings are also down. I think the citizens need to hear what's happening in this organization. There's a renaissance. I plan to be part of that," says Chief Batts.

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