150 speakers line up to speak about hiring Bratton

January 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A contentious meeting at Oakland City Hall went on late into the night on Tuesday and city leaders were prepared to continue it until 2:30 a.m. The man at the center of the debate is a high-profile lawman the city wants to hire to help fight crime.

William Bratton is the former top cop in Los Angeles and New York. The City Council was scheduled to vote on whether or not to hire a police consulting team for $250,000 that includes the controversial police consultant.

There were 150 people who signed up to speak before council and about 20 police officers were called in to deal with a large group of people who do not want the city to hire Bratton. His "zero tolerance" police strategies, like "stop and frisk," have been controversial in other cities where he has worked. Opponents say it gives officers too much discretion and leads to racial profiling and harassment.

Oakland resident Gerald Ords said his recent experience is typical. He told the City Council, "?And the police officer [asked] me why am I sitting on my neighbor's stairs and I said, 'because this is my neighbor's stairs.'"

But as the night wore on, many people left leaving a contingent of about 10 local pastors to appeal for the hiring of Bratton.

"I'm for Bill Bratton coming in. I support the Chief," said Bishop Bob Jackson from the Acts Full Gospel Church.

"He brought crime down in L.A. and he helped to get minority people working, and the complaint levels went down in that city and it was a change for the good and for the better," said Dr. David Kiteley from the Shiloh Church.

Again, the council will be voting to hire a primary consulting team that includes Bratton, the strategy of community collaboration, and a goal to reduce crime by 10 percent. However, the council can also decide to leave Bratton out of the plan.