Oakland City Council votes to hire Bratton

January 23, 2013 8:12:16 PM PST
The Oakland City Council voted 7-1 shortly after 2 a.m. today to approve a controversial measure to hire former New York and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton as a consultant to provide advice to the Oakland Police Department.

Bill Bratton is a former Los Angeles police chief and New York City police commissioner. The city council voted 7 to 1 early this morning after a meeting that included more than four hours of public comment against and in favor of hiring Bratton.

Critics worry Bratton will recommend a "stop-and-frisk" policy that could lead to racial profiling.

"'Stop and frisk' and racial profiling and many of the issues and concerns that people have about police use of force, police use of power can all be effectively addressed by strong leadership that is focused on constitutional policing," Bratton said.

Even though the vote came in the middle of the night, it was already being talked about in the neighborhoods this morning.

"I thought it was a very good vote because that is what we need. We just have too much violence," said crossing guard Loid Revels.

Revels works as a crossing guard on 85th Avenue, which is an area known for violence. He worries about the kids long after they cross the street. But JD Jenkins thinks the community needs money for programs, not consultants. Jenkins runs a program at a church called "Change the killing zone, into the living zone."

"They should have taken the vote to the community. Not downtown Oakland where a bunch of people and fancy suits sit around and make decisions and wave flyers saying not to do this or not to do that. He should not have been selected. That's my opinion," said Jenkins.

City hall was packed with people hoping to influence the vote. They filled four overflow rooms. Bratton's supporters say - look at his record.

"He brought crime down in L.A. and he helped to get minority people working and the complaint levels went down in that city," said Shiloh Church Rev. David Kiteley.

Opponents worry about Bratton's style of policing. He supports the "stop and frisk" technique. Oakland's mayor and police chief said that will not be allowed, but a retired Oakland resident has concerns.

"Because there's already racial profiling in Oakland and if the council voted him in, how are they going to stop him?" said Oakland resident Eldridge Parsons.

Parsons agrees that something needs to be done and is hoping this hire will turn out well.

"If this guy can straighten up New York and he straightened up Los Angeles he has to be doing something right," said Revels.

The contract is for $250,000 and Bratton is scheduled to start in February.


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