Batts not selected as San Jose police chief; future in Oakland unclear
on January 27, 2011
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts has confirmed that he was not selected as the new police chief of San Jose. The position will go instead to the San Jose Police Department’s acting chief, Chris Moore.
But Batts has not yet decided whether he will stay on as Oakland’s top cop. An Oakland Police Department press release issued early Thursday evening stated “Chief Batts is in continuing conversations with the Mayor and city staff concerning his future with the Oakland Police Department.”
“I have not made a final decision as to my future with this agency. It still needs to be determined if I am a fit for the City of Oakland’s vision of the future,” Batts said in the statement. “The demands on the Oakland Police Department are great, youth violence is of great concern, and we have experienced a recent spike in violent crime. In order to make significant improvements to the quality of life for the residents, collective coordination and cooperation must be a priority for ensuring public safety.”
Mayor Jean Quan responded with a statement of her own. “Since I became Mayor, Chief Batts and I have talked on a nearly daily basis to work together to protect officer and citizen safety in Oakland,” Quan said in her statement. “I appreciate his leadership and commitment to community policing and to raising professional standards. I am optimistic that the chief will continue to serve the city.”
The news that Batts had not been selected for the San Jose position broke Thursday afternoon when the San Jose Mercury News published information from unnamed “multiple sources” that Moore had been chosen over Batts. The news leak seemed to take city leaders by surprise. At that point San Jose City Manager Debra Figone, who was in charge of making the selection, would not confirm that she had chosen Moore but told the Mercury News that she was “confident that I am bringing the best candidate forward at this particular moment in time in the city.”
At that time, San Jose city spokesman Tom Manheim told Oakland North, “We are not confirming who is being selected. The city manager has made her decision and will announce this at a closed city council session next Tuesday. Reporters are saying one thing, but I don’t know where they are getting their information from.”
Surprising many Oakland city officials, Batts confirmed January 17 that he was one of two finalists for the San Jose position, despite being only a little over one year into a three-year contract as Oakland’s chief of police. At that time, Quan released a statement saying Batts had only informed her of his candidacy the week before. “No one in the city knew this at that time. He asked me to keep this confidential,” Quan said.
Batts was sworn in as Oakland’s police chief in October, 2009, after serving 27 years with the Long Beach Police Department. During his time in Oakland, the OPD has faced financial and staffing problems. Last July 80 police officers were laid off due to Oakland’s huge budget deficit, dropping the number of officers to roughly 650 today. Batts told the Oakland City Council in September that the reduction in his staff would hinder his ability to carry out the plans set forth by the department, which he said would require 925 officers.
Today, Batts reiterated his concerns about staffing. “I continue to have concerns surrounding the support and resources being provided and am committed to doing whatever is required to fix the broken systems within this agency,” Batts stated in the OPD press release.
Shortly before Batts’ announcement, Dom Arotzarena, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said that even though going to San Jose would have been a good opportunity for Chief Batts, “if he stays here, he is going to have to let the officers know his heart is in it. I look at Batts as a professional. I believe that he is going to continue his job, and we’ll work with him to do things the right way.”
Image: Chief Batts speaks to television reporters on February 10, 2010, about the disappearance of Hasanni Campbell the previous August. Photo by Josh Wolf.
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