Bratton ready to take on Oakland crime

January 23, 2013 8:15:46 PM PST
Bill Bratton says he's ready to take on the challenge of fighting Oakland's soaring crime rate, even after City Council members got an earful from the public about why they shouldn't hire him.

Bratton is in Detroit, where he's trying to do the same turn-around there. He told ABC7 News he's eager to start in Oakland, where they have similar problems with Detroit. Bratton says he's going to focus on gangs and guns in Oakland and he has no doubt he'll be successful.

"I've never had a year in which I was chief of police in which crime did not go down in the city I was working," Bratton told ABC7 News by phone. "And all those cities after I left, crime continued to go down."

Bratton's basic crime fighting philosophy is control the behavior of criminals and flood hotspots, the places where most of the violent crimes takes place, with officers.

As police commissioner in New York City, the hotspots were the drug marketplaces where most of the shootings occurred. He re-assigned hundreds patrol officers to the narcotics unit. Drug related homicides dropped more than 90 percent.

"You reduce it by effectively controlling illegal behavior to such an extent that you change the behavior, you effectively reduce the amount of crime and you reduce the number of people who are committing crimes," Bratton said.

One of Bratton's crime fighting tools is the controversial "stop and frisk" -- a tactic that's fueled anger among many Oakland residents afraid it will result in racial profiling.

In New York during Bratton's tenure, there were 700,000 stop and frisk incidents a year. Bratton says it's an effective tool and blames the controversy on police departments that have been using the practice inappropriately.

"The constitutional tools that you've been given to work with, you always have to use them legally, constitutionally, you have to use them compassionately, you're dealing with human beings," Bratton said.

A centerpiece of Bratton's strategies will be CompStat, the computer crime tracking system he helped develop. CompStat enables police brass to track in real time the frequency of crimes and how effectively its patrol stations are handling them. The tracking system allows the command staff to quickly mobilize forces to a hotspot and snuff it out before it escalates.

"Focusing accountability on the captain in charge of each area as to what's going on in his or her area of responsibility; I think that's an essential part of effective policing," Bratton said.

Oakland adopted CompStat a while back but Bratton wants the department to do more with it, like New York and Los Angeles have. He hopes to start as soon as his contract is finalized.


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