Nearly a year into his term as Chief of Oakland Police, Anthony Batt’s vision for turning around Oakland’s stubborn crime problem is in serious trouble.
With 80 police officers slated to be cut in an effort to tackle Oakland’s growing budget problems, the Oakland Police Strategic Framework, which has yet to be finalized, is already crumbling. Besides the layoff of much needed officers, the department is also looking at a likely cut to the department. It also doesn’t help that many officers are unhappy with the strong possibility that they may have to pay into the pension system for the first time.
When Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts was appointed to lead OPD seven months ago, he promised a new era in city policing.
Batts vowed that under his leadership, Oakland would soon see significant changes in crime rates, better police response times, and more collaboration between police and Oakland citizens. In addition, at recent town hall meetings he’s spoken about his desire to bring different communities together to work on entrenched crime issues.
During his short tenure, there have been some notable successes, like the independent report about the Lovelle Mixon shooting, that was unprecedented in its frankness. But, Batts as of late, has seen serious crimes—like the recent unprovoked daytime attack on an 83-year-old Chinese immigrant that lead to his death—happen on Batts’ watch. In addition, some of his strategies for fighting crime, like instituting gang injunctions, have met hard resistance.
A recent visit by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to East Oakland to discuss gang violence, demonstrates the seriousness of crime in many parts of Oakland. At Oakland Local, we want to examine some of the critical challenges facing Batts. Can he deliver his ambitious plans for the city? Will his plan get enough buy-in from citizens, politicians, and fellow police officers to turn Oakland’s crime problem around?
City politics and budget realities aren’t helping Chief Batts. Oakland is struggling with a $30.5 million budget deficit for this year. Some assesse put the city's structural deficit for the next four years at $400 million. And City Hall's own recent projection shows a structural deficit of $589 million over five years
Much is at stake,whether Batts succeeds or fail in his goals. Many think he may be the city's best hope to slow down crime. More than ever, there is a need for citizens to understand how their police department works and what programs could affect their community.