Oakland to decide on controversial stop-and-frisk advocate Bill Bratton

This image appeared with a post on activist website Bay of Rage, urging protesters to speak out against Bratton.
Image from bayofrage.com

On Tuesday, Oakland City Council will consider approving a $250,000 contract for an outside security consulting team, which could include controversial roving police chief and private security contractor William Bratton. With Oakland’s understaffed police department facing a 23 percent rise in violent crime over the past year, the Council’s Public Safety Committee unanimously recommended last week that the full Council approve a new round of funding for Boston-based police consultant Strategic Policy Partnership LLC. The firm intends to bring on Bratton as part of a new team of private policing experts to advise OPD.

At the five-hour Public Safety Committee meeting on Jan. 15, Oakland activists crowded into the chamber to voice concerns that Bratton—a nationally known proponent of “zero tolerance” policing and New York City’s extremely controversial stop-and-frisk policy—would be tapped as a member of the consulting team. Pressure from the community prompted committee members to tack on a provision suggesting that an alternative to Bratton be considered in the final contract.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan both voiced enthusiastic support for Bratton’s appointment.  In a letter sent last Wednesday urging the Council to approve the contract, Quan wrote: “Bratton is uniquely suited to helping us perfect how that system works here.” She went on to promise that racial profiling would not be tolerated in Oakland.

Oakland attorney Dan Siegel, a former legal advisor to Quan, expressed dismay over Bratton’s possible consultancy to a lively group of protesters outside last Tuesday’s meeting. “Stop-and-frisk does not work,” he said. “Bratton is exactly what we do not need in the city of Oakland.”

Although Bratton did not attend last Tuesday’s meeting, he has publicly expressed interest in working in Oakland, despite the vocal opposition.  “I'm still very desirous of working in Oakland … I think the assistance that I can provide will be of value to the city,” Bratton told the Oakland Tribune following Wednesday’s protests.

From Boston, to Los Angeles, to New York, Bratton has implemented and championed a controversial mix of anti-crime measures, making him one of the nation’s most divisive and visible law enforcement officials. 

Lauded by supporters as America’s “Top Cop,” he has twice served as president of the influential Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), which was responsible for coordinating a police response to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. He also serves as vice chair of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Serving as police chief in New York from 1994 to 1996 and Los Angeles from 2002 to 2009, Bratton built a national reputation as an outspoken proponent of stop-and-frisk, a tactic often linked with racial profiling. According to data compiled by the New York ACLU, the procedure disproportionally targets black and Latino residents. Earlier this month, a U.S. District Court Judge in New York deemed stop-and-frisk to be unconstitutional and issued an injunction limiting the policy in the Bronx. In July, when San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee suggested exploring stop-and-frisk in San Francisco, local civil liberties advocates balked.

Bratton is also an unabashed supporter of zero-tolerance policing, a method that stems from the “broken-windows theory” and encourages police to make arrests for minor infractions such as graffiti, litter, panhandling, prostitution or other petty offenses which are presumed to create an environment that breeds serious crime.

Bratton’s controversial tactics have been credited with reducing crime rates during his tenure in New York and Los Angeles. His work to diversify the LAPD and build closer ties between police and the community also drew praise from the Los Angeles chapter of the ACLU.

But in Oakland, local police reform advocates question the long-term efficacy of Bratton’s methods.

Rachel Herzing, co-director of Oakland-based Critical Resistance, an advocacy group that is part of a coalition of local organizations mobilizing against Bratton, charges that he deals in “quick fixes.” In the long run, she argues, his methods do not reduce crime but rather relocate it.

Bratton’s “all cops, no services approach does not work anywhere, and will not work in Oakland,” Herzing told the Guardian. “The aggressive sweeps Bratton is known for in New York ultimately just displace people, and drive them away from essential services. [These tactics] aren’t appropriate policing responses.”

The public outcry at last Tuesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting drew responses from new Council members Lynette Gibson McElhaney and Dan Kalb. McElhaney, whose District 3 includes some of the city’s lower-income neighborhoods plagued with high crime rates, told colleagues that Bratton may come with “too much baggage.” Ultimately, McElhaney said, his presence in Oakland might prove to be counterproductive.

Speaking to the Guardian on Jan. 21, McElhaney said she was not yet sure if she would vote to approve the contract. “We are wrestling with some very big issues here,” she said.  “I am clearly concerned about some of Bratton’s tactics but I am also interested in his results in some of the cities he has worked in. I do know he has lowered homicide rates.”

She added that the overarching goal of addressing crime in Oakland should not be lost in the debate surrounding Bratton. “There’s the totality of the contract I’m considering... in the end, I’m more interested in the outcome as opposed to the individuals.”

In an effort to diffuse controversy at the Jan. 15 meeting, McElhaney and Kalb successfully amended the committee recommendation to urge Strategic Policy Partnership to consider potential alternatives to Bratton.

But given Bratton’s national profile and controversial approach to policing, his inclusion in the consulting contract will likely take center stage at the full Council Meeting on Tuesday. Both Bratton’s opponents and supporters plan to arrive in force at Tuesday’s Council meeting, and as of yet it’s uncertain which side will prevail.


Bratton's pretty bad, Oakland should take a pass on him and punt this back to Judge Thelton Henderson for receivership under his wise stewardship. That would nip the OPD corruption in the bud in no time.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 21, 2013 @ 6:20 pm

It's the 130 murders a year.

Most voters are happy to overlook the former, but not the latter.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 7:04 am

passes constitutional muster anywhere is a mystery.

Nothing to do with racialist ravings, stopping anyone on the street and digging through their personal belongings is wrong.

Posted by matlock on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 11:47 pm

Just look at the way the 2nd is undermined by gun control, supposedly because it is in the "public interest".

Why should it be any different with the 4th?

I'm a strict constitutionalist and don't think it should be messed with. But the idea that the cops should search innocent-looking white grandmothers rather than guilty-looking black males is a stretch.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 23, 2013 @ 6:53 am

he is effective at reducing crime and transforming a police department. The effects are not necessarily temporary. Look at New York as compared to two decades ago. The change is remarkable.

Posted by D. native on Jan. 21, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

crime elements and activists in Oakland are scared of him.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 7:05 am

Pro crime elements and activists? WTF is that? How is "stop & frisk" not racial profiling?

Posted by Long time Oakland Resident on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 8:44 am

Some people can look more suspicious than others. Cops are trained to know which is which.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:02 am


Of course, since you already criminalize "black and hispanic" people, let's just jail all of them and dispose of the fiction of due process under law.

Up the prison-industrial complex, down with legal and human rights.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:26 am

just so they can appear "equitable"?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:49 am

have probable cause to believe that the person has committed a crime.

The Constitution (other than the 2nd Amendment) means little to you, so here's the 4th Amendment so you can remember the rights that don't matter to you:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

This isn't the UK with no written constitution.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:58 am

constitutional muster. "Probable cause" can include modes of dress, behavior, attitude and appearance that are found to correlate to crime.

IOW, stop 10 young black males wearing gangsta clothes and you'll find more crimes to arrest for than 10 white grandmothers wearing pearls and twinsets.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

a federal district judge:



What are gangsta clothes? Are you a reformed OG?

There is a nearly 100% correlation between criminality and being clothed (except of course in SF where being naked will soon be a crime.)

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

about the essence of the policy. Some excesses may have been curtailed without negating the principle. That even basketcase Oakland is finally accepting the need for this, shows that you've lost the debate.

Funny how you take the 4th literally, but not the 2nd.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 1:26 pm

2nd Amendment in my comments on this site. You are trying to divert attention from ruling by the Federal judge, indicating that stop and frisk oversteps the 4th Amendment.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

I already know, i.e. you think the 2nd should have lots of exceptions, but the 4th should not.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:36 pm

I hope you are better at reading minds than you are at reading words on a computer screen.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 4:03 pm
Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 21, 2013 @ 6:53 pm

Which is why crime is skyrocketing in Oakland?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 21, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

Judge success by the number of arrests, guns seized etc... In addition CHP has only been doing this a short time.

What's your alternative?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 21, 2013 @ 8:54 pm

Let Judge Henderson put the OPD into receivership, reorganize the OPD to root out the rot, and rebuild the organization into a community policing operation would be my inclination. I trust Henderson to do the right thing more than I'd trust the OPD or Bratton.

But I don't know Oakland well enough to comment any further.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 21, 2013 @ 10:12 pm

in a way that actually makes them effective, i.e. gives them political support and adequate funding.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 7:06 am

The OPD doesn't have a revenue problem. They have a spending problem. It costs more to live in NYC than in Oakland, and yet OPD gets paid twice as much as NYPD. Instead of laying off people, the union could have shown solidarity and offer to cut their salaries to a normal level (about half of what they make). Maybe lay off some of their top brass, who make particularly unreasonable amounts of money. Instead, they made the political decision to have fewer officers, as long as those who were left, remained extraordinarily highly paid. They made a poor decision and now they're whining about the consequences.

That said, I don't think the cuts are such a bad thing overall. I read they're giving out 75% fewer traffic tickets, and I thought, good! Let them focus on real crimes for a change. Learn to do more with less, and focus on what's really important. And yes, I've read that crime is up too. But not anywhere close to 75% up, so there's a balance to be had here. Plus, crime rates fluctuate up and down due to all kinds of factors. I'm not at all convinced it has anything to do with fewer cops.

As for political support... I tend to be of the opinion that they'll have political support when they earn it. To that end, I thing receivership will be good for them, in that it'll help rebuild public trust.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 8:35 am

on political points about how much you think cops should be paid. Being in OPD is a very dangerous occupation and so their cops should be paid much more than a cop in, say, a sleepy affluent town in Marin.

Oakland's problems is that they have a pro-crime political mafia who fund all kinds of "hug a thug" programs while the police cars and radio's keep breaking down. Even the mayor undermines the cops, and associates with some sketchy characters.

Oakland needs zero tolerance, gang curfews and stop-and-frisk. what Oakland doesn't need is white liberals from SF telling them that OPD should never inconvenince gang members and criminals. Your priorities are all wrong.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:01 am

than people in safe ones. For instance, construction workers, farm workers, taxi cab drivers, bus drivers.

Our present system perverts this common sense approach, paying the most to unproductive, predatory, undangerous jobs like hedge fund manager, health insurance executive and investment banker, underwritten by the public treasury and the federal reserve.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:33 am

except insofar as it helps show where the public sector is paying too much. So, for instance, the fact that a private bus driver makes half what a muni driver makes shows us that over-paying is a big part of muni#s problems.

Then again, I'd dispute that being a bus driver is "dangerous".

But being a cop in Oakland is far more dangerous than being a private security guard. They get paid 100K to 200K because of the risk and in fact 4 to 5 cops leave OPD each month even with all that pay, just for their own safety.

The issue here is reducing crime. The motion here is not to halve cops' pay - that's a pipe dream. The issue is to bring in Bratton's policies, which are well known to have been effective elsewhere.

Even Quan, who drove out Bratton's protegy Batts, appears to have finally realized that "hug a thug" doesn't work.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 9:54 am

in the United States, maybe the informal economy. Government fiscal and tax policy subsidizes your vaunted "private sector." Walmart couldn't make super profits from its underpaid part-time work force without public support like food stamps and medicaid for its workers. The list goes on and on.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 10:10 am

clearly in the interests of the economy. Nonetheless, if a business is run by it's shareholders rather than bureaucrats, it's private and not public.

The voters have routinely approved improved pay and benefit for cops because of the crucial role they play. Indeed, it would not bother me if the ONLY thing SF or Oakland did was public safety, and outsourced or abandoned the other stuff and fluff.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

of the government.

Your ideology contradicts itself. On a macro level, you advocate increasing of wealth (larger pie, rising tide.) At the micro level, you advocate lower wages, benefits and the reneging on the payment of promised deferred wages (ie, pensions) for the vast majority of workers (smaller share of the pie.)

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 12:46 pm

that if you are overpaid, eventually you will lose your job, one way or the other.

But if government helps business, there will be mroe jobs to potentially repace the job you just lost thru being overpaid.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

because such a dystopic milieu creates and vast (necessarily criminalized) underclass which can only be efficiently and competently policed by the state's apparatus.

It's part and parcel with the modality of internalizing profits and externalizing costs.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:24 pm

and that if the populace doesn't feel safe, then the rest of what a city does is largely irrelevant.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

"Being in OPD is a very dangerous occupation and so their cops should be paid much more than a cop in, say, a sleepy affluent town in Marin."

fyi... NYPD stands for New York Police Department. And in New York, particularly places like the Bronx, there is crime, there is high cost of living, it is not a sleepy town by any stretch, and police officers get paid half of what they make in OPD.

And they do just fine!

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

Here in the Bay Area, the voters have decided to pay cops 100K to 200k per annum because they value safety that much. Problem?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

Here in the Bay Area, the voters have decided to pay cops 100K to 200k per annum because they value safety that much. Problem?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

public sector employees. If they did, however, the Bronx voters wouldn't decide the wages of Bronx cops because the Bronx isn't a city.

Geographically challenged troll.

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

But yes, voters indirectly decide the pay of the city's employees, although they still get distorted, as we're seeing with the current public sector pensions crisis.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 3:52 pm

What do you think of quan? She is one of your people, isn't she?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 8:13 am

One of my people? Do I look like a Chinese-American woman?

Posted by marcos on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 12:15 pm

I think he meant "progressive" Marcos.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

Quan was the product of IRV. Kaplan was the progressive candidate, Perata was the machine candidate. Quan won because Kaplan's voters chose Quan second and nobody chose Perata second. Again, I don't know the personalities and political histories of anyone in Oakland except for Kaplan and Kalb, so I'd not want to characterize Quan's politics.

Posted by marcos on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 1:01 pm

for instance, there would be no controversy there about building 8 Wash. Jack London Sq got gentrified and nobody complained - in SF the NIMBY's would go wild. In Oakland, they just want the money, any money. The place is broke, and NIMBY'ism is a privileged pursuit of affluent white liberals.

Quan's crime isn't that she is too left-wing but that she is too ineffectual. She's the anti-WillieBrown. Her big weakness is that she feels a lot of sympathy for criminals. Oakland is the wrong place for that, which is why she is being increasingly marginalized.

With 3 new members on Oakland's council, tonight will be interesting. Is Oakland serious about reducing crime? Or does it just want to be "nice" to everyone, including thugs? Even Quan is now realizing that getting tough is necessary. If something isn't done, Oakland will implode under the twin pincers of crime and it's budget deficit.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

a world-class city but in reality Oakland is declining and has been for a long time - especially in light of the success of San Francisco. That's why she spends so much time out of Oakland in places like DC - she was in DC during the Occupy riots and she was in DC recently when there were so many consecutive murders. She's an absentee mayor. Oakland needs someone in charge - someone who can bring down the fist to bring that place under control. Quan is definitely not that person.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

Coulda fooled me. A lot of folks I know are taking a second look at Oakland.

Posted by Greg on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 7:01 pm

Those are just the types Oakland needs LESS of.

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

sentiment among Oakland voters.

Why make false arguments? Leave that to the trolls.

For good and bad, Quan is the product of her parents, her early childhood and subsequent life.

Quan's mayoralty is a product of voter sentiment at the time she was elected.

You can hate IRV because you think it hurts Progressives (according to your unconvincing rationale) but you can't hate it because it produced the very result that Oakland voters wanted; if you do, that means you hate democracy.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 1:59 pm

don't hate, rather than the Mayor the most people want, then you can possibly argue it worked to produce the otherwise non-entity Quan.

But she has been almost as "in absentia" as Dellums was, and she has essentially ignored the crime problem, other than her hopeless "100 block" strategy, since abandoned.

Oakland needs tough leaders, tough cops and tough prosecutors. right now, it is paralyzed by political correctness and ineptitude. If SF's politics is compromized by ideology, Oakland's is compromized by incompetance.

Who would choose to live in Oakland?

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:14 pm

Obviously if there is a problem -- and I'll certainly stipulate to that! -- it lies elsewhere.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

As crime increases, businesses and the middle class leave, reducing the tax base, further compromizing the ability of the city to manage crime.

Throw in a political underclass of "for rent" activists and you have a city with no reasonable prospect of climbing out of the big hole.

Jerry Brown was the last decent mayor they had, and he had the good fortune of a good economy. But at least he had the right idea - build homes to target the midle class that Oakland was losing.

That dream is now dead and, whatever Oakland's solution, it's not more activists and more liberal policies on crime or anti-business sentiment.

Posted by Guest on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:41 pm

from San Francisco.

"It's hot, it's happening, it's Oakland."

Posted by Eddie on Jan. 22, 2013 @ 2:40 pm