This morning, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts appeared on KQED Forum, with Host Scott Shafer. Some of this interview amplified what Batts has discussed at recent strategic plan meetings. While the Chief pointed out the recent double-digit declines in crime, he didn’t sugar-coat the challenges ahead.
Plenty was covered in the radio interview, so we selected and interpreted these points of interest:
- Priorities – The Police Department is going to staff to address the highest crime-ridden areas. Everyone deserves to live in safe neighborhoods. Hard to argue here, tough to achieve.
- Beats Matter – Beat officers will be assigned to their beats, full time. When there’s crime, they might leave their posts to attend to emergencies. Local focus with some interruptions seems reasonable.
- Volunteers – Like Long Beach, Oakland expects to develop a volunteer force in the hundreds. We need to get things set up to manage these citizen volunteers. What are incentives to work well?
- Interface – When you want to report a crime, we won’t make it as tough to file as today. It shouldn’t even require a visit to police station in the future. This is something we have to fix. Yes, doesn’t this all cost real money?
- City Budget – There are obviously not enough cops on the street. Our $35 million shortfall next year (2010-2011) is creating a challenge, to say the least. To us, this is Everest challenge!
Finally, the honeymoon period is drawing to a close for Police Chief Batts. We have the right leader in place, who signed up to the job knowing he would be jumping over many hurdles here. He still approaches the role with plenty of focused energy.
If you haven’t been at any live meetings with the Chief, then we encourage you to listen to his archived interview now.