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Looking for fresh ideas to solve Oakland’s growing crime problem, Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan announced today that they’re turning to two crime-fighting experts for help. Jordan said at a packed news conference at City Hall that Oakland is contracting with Massachusetts-based Strategic Policy Partnership as well as with William Bratton, who formerly served as police chief in Los Angeles and police commissioner in New York City and Boston. Jordan said the Strategic Policy Partnership, which is headed by Robert Wasserman, the former chief of staff of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Clinton, has had success in reducing crime rates in many cities across the country where it has been hired.
He said when Bratton was in New York he developed the CompStat system, a system of tracking crimes that has been successful in reducing crime in New York and other cities. Jordan said of Bratton, “We want him to point us in the right direction in fighting violent crime.” He said he is turning to outside experts because, “Sometimes we’re too close to the forest that we can’t see the trees.” Jordan said Bratton “has worked in many other cities and perhaps they’re doing something we’re not doing.” Jordan said another major change he is making is returning his department to a neighborhood-policing program in which captains will be responsible for fighting crime in specific areas. He said the city will be divided into five districts, including two in East Oakland, where much of the city’s violent crime occurs. “This will give us our best opportunity to reduce violent crime in Oakland,” Jordan said. “We’ll be taking a very aggressive approach.”
Quan said police units will focus on smaller areas and “there will be accountability from the top down.” Jordan said Oakland must take action because Oakland’s homicide total this year is the highest it’s been in five years. He said there have been 127 homicides so far this year, of which five have been ruled to be justified, leaving it with a total of 122 homicides. Quan said, “There’s no question Oakland has had a tough year in terms of crime. I agree with the community that it’s absolutely unacceptable.” Quan said, “We’re trying to use the resources we have now to try to do a better job. We can do better.”
Jordan said, “This year has been a very tough year in Oakland and that’s unacceptable to me. I take ownership of the crime problem because it happened on my watch.” Oakland had more than 800 police officers several years ago but Jordan said that number has dropped to 616 officers now. He said the number of officers will increase late next year after recruits graduate from a police academy currently under way as well as another academy that will start soon but in the meantime his department will work to be as efficient as possible with what it has to work with now. City Administrator Deanna Santana said the city is proposing to pay $250,000 for the services of the Strategic Policy Partnership and Bratton. The City Council will vote on the contracts on Jan. 15, she said. Jordan said there’s no time limit on the contracts. “The work will continue until they’re done,” he said.
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