Chief Batts denies looking at other jobs


Speaking at his first media briefing in months, Batts said his quest for the San Jose post is in the past and that he's now completely focused on Oakland.

Batts was a finalist for the San Jose job, but lost out to that city's acting Chief Chris Moore.

Batts, who became Oakland's top cop in October 2009 and has a three-year contract with the city, said, "I'm not looking for another job and I don't anticipate looking for another job."

The chief said he stopped doing his monthly media briefings last summer because he didn't want to have police issues interfere with the mayoral campaign. He said he didn't hold any briefings earlier this year because he wanted to "get out of the way" of new Mayor Jean Quan, who took office on Jan. 3.

The chief said news reports that claim that he has clashed with Quan are inaccurate.

"The mayor is doing a lot of great things," he said.

He said he will follow Quan's directions in leading the Police Department.

When asked by a reporter about a report that morale in the department is low, Batts replied, "Morale is defined by different people in different ways."

He said officers were upset when the City Council voted to lay off 80 officers and 22 recruits last summer to help the city close its budget gap.

Referring to the layoffs, Batts said, "Police officers aren't used to that because once they come to a department they think they will be there a long time."

He said he appreciates his officers and he thinks they are doing a good job because overall crime is down and homicides are down.

"There are a lot of things we need to celebrate," Batts said.

Problems with the Police Department's radio system have sometimes made it difficult for officers to communicate with each other and dispatchers during emergencies, but Batts said a new radio system is being rolled out that will be in compliance with national standards.

Assistant Chief Howard Jordan said the department is testing the new system now and hopes it will be fully operational by June.

He said Oakland will be one of the Bay Area's first cities to have such a system.

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