Police Chief Takes To The Airwaves

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.

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Reality Check To Dellums, On KQED

This morning, KQED’s Michael Krasny devoted an entire hour to Oakland Politics.  The always-measured Krasny kept the participants under relative control – but managed to share his own consternation with Mayor Dellums too.

When Ron Dellums ran for office, he promised Krasny that he would make appearances on Forum afterwards.  Since then, he’s been hiding from Krasny and the local press.  Krasny wants to interview him, and it’s frankly dumb that Dellums ignores this invitation.

Instead, a Dellums spokesman appeared on today’s program and performed very badly.  First, the other journalists and blogger below eviscerated the guy!   The callers were not kind, either.  One active Dellums supporter said he was dumbfounded by the doubletalk from the Mayor’s office.

The news that triggered today’s program was the city administration hoopla, of course.  At this point, Deborah Edgerly is working through July.  An active hunt has begun for her replacement.

When one of the Forum guests asked exactly when the replacement search began, the spokesman couldn’t respond.  He just said they hired an expensive head-hunter.  When pressed again, he still deflected the question.

During the hour, Oakland’s downtown vibrancy came up too.  The spokesman mentioned things that happened in the past two years.  He identified one developer deal by name.  The journalists pounced and explained that development happens over many years.

Finally, the city’s crime prevention efforts were discussed.  The spokesman pointed to slightly lower violent crimes and full police staffing levels.  In response, the journalists pointed to temporary Measure Y funding to get there.  They also raised the need for addressing educational opportunities, as a more structural fix.

If you have time, then listen to this Forum hour.  I’m sure you’ll agree the Mayor is hiding behind his flacks – and that he deserves “the quiet mayor” moniker bestowed by the SF Chronicle guest.