Batts up for new police chief job, Quan issues statement
on January 17, 2011
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts is being considered for the job of San Jose’s new police chief, after just more than a year of service in Oakland.
Oakland Police Department spokeswoman Holly Joshi confirmed that Batts is one of two finalists for the position, but said that neither Batts nor the San Jose Police Department have made any decisions yet.
Media reports of Batts’ candidacy for the San Jose job broke Monday morning, based on remarks Batts is said to have made Sunday to the head of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association.
San Jose’s police department is currently headed by Acting Chief of Police Chris Moore, who has helmed the San Jose force since former chief Rob Davis stepped down in late 2010. Moore is reportedly the other finalist for the position.
This morning Oakland mayor Jean Quan’s office released a brief statement outlining what her office will do to begin a search for a new police chief if Batts takes a new position in San Jose. Here is Quan’s statement in its entirety:
“Last week Chief Batts informed me that he had agreed to become a candidate for the San Jose Chief’s position in October and that he was now a finalist. No one in the City knew this at that time. He asked me to keep this confidential.”
“Yesterday I spoke with the City Administrator and contacted my colleagues on the City Council. Should Chief Batts be chosen and decide to leave, I will immediately appoint an interim Chief and conduct a national search for a new Chief.”
“I have been working with the Chief and top command staff over the last two weeks and am confident that we will continue the reforms within the Oakland Police Department and will continue to make getting new resources for community policing a priority whatever the outcome.”
According to the Matier & Ross column in the San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose’s city manager hopes to select a new police chief by early February.
Batts joined Oakland’s police force in October, 2009 after serving for 27 years on the force in Long Beach, California. He began his job as Oakland’s top cop by attending a wide variety of public appearances and town hall meetings designed to help Oaklanders learn more about his background, and to let residents address him about public safety concerns.
His tenure has been marked by both financial and public safety challenges. Faced with a massive budget deficit, Oakland laid off 80 police officers in July, despite opposition from the police officers’ union. The layoffs led to some marked changes in the OPD’s policing strategy, including a stronger focus on handling emergencies over investigating non-violent crimes or doing crime prevention work.
In September, 2010, Batts presented the Oakland City Council with an overview of his first year on the job, but told them that staff reductions had hindered his ability to effectively move ahead with the strategic plan his office had issued that August, and that the department needed at least 925 officers in order to reduce crime rates and police response times to acceptable levels. In December, the police department announced that it then employed only 669 officers.
During the past year, the Oakland City Attorney’s Office petitioned for two gang injunctions, in North Oakland and the Fruitvale neighborhoods. Batts also oversaw the OPD’s response to several large and unruly protests in 2010, including those after the verdict and the sentencing in the Johannes Mehserle trial, as well as a March education funding protest during which protesters attempted to stop traffic on the 880 freeway.
The police department recently began to hold policy information sessions on issues like when police officers are authorized to use force. Thanks to the passage of Measure BB, the OPD’s problem-solving officers were slated to return to work January 15.
Oakland North will continue to follow this story.
Image: Police Chief Anthony Batts addressing the Oakland City Council in September, 2010. Photo by Laura Hautala.
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