East Bay News

Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts to resign

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
OPD Chief Anthony Batts Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts

Chief Anthony Batts is moving on after just two years on the job, which means the city of Oakland now needs a new top cop.

Batts was hired to rebuild the Oakland Police Department and improve damaged relations with the community. In the end, the city's bureaucratic obstacle course proved to be his biggest challenge.

"It's just a lot of bureaucracy in the city of Oakland as a whole," said Batts.

He came in as a breath of fresh air. The community had high hopes, but in less than two-and-a-half years Batts explained why he's retiring.

"No chief wants to be in a position where he or she is being held accountable, but doesn't have the power to make a dramatic impact," said Batts.

Batts ran down a list of mandates and city officials who had to approve things before he could move ahead with his crime-fighting tactics.

"If I have a crime-related problem that's out in the community, I have to be able to move resources. There are laws within the city of Oakland right now, that says I cannot touch 75 officers," said Batts.

Batts would not name specific reasons for leaving, but a good example came last week when the city council refused to adopt his request for tougher crime-fighting laws. Councilmember Jane Brunner says she wanted more research to back up his actions.

"I talked to two of his deputy chiefs. They were not able to give me that answer. We need those answers if we're going to make those decisions as a council and as a policymaker. Our chief needs to be able to give us that data," said Bruner.

The first sign of Batts' waning commitment came when city leaders learned he was gunning for the police chief job in San Jose earlier this year.

"I just knew it was a matter of time that he would probably do what he did this morning and it's more out of frustration," said City Councilmember Larry Reid.

Reid, a pro law enforcement council member, says he warned Batts early on he would be micro-managed.

"We need to find somebody that's going to be loyal to the citizens and to the police, but also at the same time they need to learn how to let this person do their job," said Police Officers Union president Dom Arotzarena.

Batts said he did not give up on Oakland and many African-American leaders told him they understood his departure.

When asked if he felt like his work is done in Oakland, Batts said, "I feel like I have set a path to be continued. I feel I have impacted this organization. I think even in its leadership, after I leave, the things I have done will make an impact on the leadership in the future of this organization."

Under his brief leadership, Batts says he promoted more women in lead positions, hired 25 officers in a recession, put cameras on cops, implemented one of the first animal encounter training courses for officers, and drastically cut down on street car side shows.

Batts will retire with his full pension estimated to be between $270,000 and $300,000 a year. He'll also be doing some research and teaching at Harvard. Batts will officially leave in early November and it's expected Asst. Chief Howard Jordan will take over as interim police chief. The Police Officer's Association says it'll lobby for Jordan to be the next police chief.

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tags:
oakland, anthony batts, OPD, crime, east bay news, alan wang
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