Oakland PD Heroes by Paula Steel, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixieclipx/3199969093/
The Oakland City Council will shortly be voting on a proposal to amend an existing contract with Strategic Policy Partnership, a consulting firm that will assist the Oakland Police Department in reorganizing, maximizing its efficiency and developing a community outreach program.
Critics of this proposal have inaccurately claimed that the lead on the contract amendment will be former NY and LA police Chief William Bratton. In point of fact, this contract amendment is with the aforementioned Strategic Policy Partnership, under the management of Robert Wasserman. The contract amendment amount of $250K will go to the company, and cover expenses and time for all consultants—only one of whom may be Bill Bratton.
Make Oakland Better Now! believes this contract must be approved for the following reasons:
Oakland suffers from a horrible gun violence problem, almost on a daily basis. This carnage is an unacceptable tragedy. Last year 131 people were killed, to date this year we have already seen 6 deaths. The victims of these crimes are both gang members, criminals and, tragically, helpless bystanders. We must act now to use every tool possible to stop this war! The continuance of this war is unacceptable!
Making these changes requires us to find new and better ways to use the very limited resources of our overstretched Police Department. Our police department acknowledges that it does not have the resources to do this job. This contract amendment will require the development of a city-wide Public Safety Plan, including a community relations program.
The opposition to the contract amendment is based upon false and misleading claims concerning Chief Bratton’s record in New York and Los Angeles. Some have opined that he will be bringing the unconstitutional practice of stopping and frisking citizens without probable cause. Yet Mr. Wasserman has said that “stop and frisk” is “nowhere on my radar.” And OPD Chief Howard Jordan is on record as declaring the unconstitutional use of this practice is not, and will never be, considered for use by OPD.
As Oaklanders, we at MOBN! vehemently oppose unconstitutional stops, and we know the entire community does as well. Since the United States Supreme Court decided the landmark decision Terry v. Ohio, it has been the law of the land that a police officer may only stop and search an individual if there is a reasonable suspicion that the individual has been, currently is, or is about to be engaged in illegal activity. [392 US 1, 1968)]
As for opposition to Chief Bratton, let’s consider some facts. When he took over the LAPD in 2002 it was an of out of control police department, reeling from the court judgment in the Ramparts case. Over the next 8 years under his leadership, the department was completely reorganized to the point where it became considered a model for community involvement. Clear evidence of this is contained in these statements from a report by the highly respected Rand Corporation:
”More than two-thirds of Hispanic and Black residents think well of the job the LAPD is doing today, rating it as good or excellent;”
“[T}wo features of the Los Angeles story seem to require that we highlight his role. First, Chief Bratton figures prominently in many if not most accounts of what has changed in the Los Angeles Police Department. In his public and private statements, he makes clear that he works for the Police Commission and he gives credit for any successes to the team he has assembled and the Department he leads. Still, his vision, his experience in other departments, and his confidence that the City and Department can
meet the requirements of the consent decree are widely reported as factors driving the success of the LAPD. Second, his concern with professionalism, transparency, performance management in policing, and race relations in the United States are at least as important as the requirements of the consent decree in understanding what motivates the LAPD in its senior ranks.”
The evidence is very clear that chief Bratton took over a very sick department and turned it around to the general satisfaction of even its strongest critics.
MOBN! believes that Strategic Policy Partnership, with the assistance of experts like Chief Bratton will produce a report that could significantly change Oakland’s Police Department. Changing a complex organization like OPD is difficult, and outside help is needed to give its leaders the tools they need to do the job. We think Strategic Policy Partnership can give Chief Jordan and the department these tools.
It time for our City to pull together to find new ideas and support major changes in the Oakland Police Department. This contract will help do that.
Editor's Note: This piece reflects an individual opinion and is not a reported story from Oakland Local. Oakland Local invites community residents to share their views about events and issues in Oakland. For guidelines, see: http://oaklandlocal.com/tos