Archive for January, 2013

Bratton Debates Continue

 By Ken Epstein

Tempers remain frayed and opinion divided over the City Council´s overwhelming vote this week to hire a controversial consultant Bill Bratton to advise the Oakland Police Department.

At a meeting that lasted to nearly 3 a.m., hundreds of speakers lined up to argue for and against the hiring of Bratton, an internationally recognized expert on policing. He is an outspoken advocate of police use of stop and frisk tactics, viewed by critics as racial profiling that targets and criminalizes Black and Latino youth.

The council voted 7-1 to hire Bratton. Councilmember Desley Brooks, District, 7, was the only one to oppose the resolution.

Desley Brooks

Desley Brooks

Brooks said her opposition is based on the first contract and the new contact with the Wasserman group, which includes a provision to bring in Bratton.

“Before I would spend new money, I would like to know they did a job on the first contact.  I don’t see why we couldn’t have waited before passing this contact,” said Brooks.

According to the contract,” Bratton will only be here for two months – the first month to survey what we area already and the second month to develop a crime reduction strategy and go out and hold community meetings,’ she said.

The contact says Bratton will create one crime reduction strategy for the hills and another one for the flatlands, she said.

“The impression is that Bratton is going to come here and wave a magic wand and make crime go away in Oakland,” she said, but the reality is that change is take time.

Brooks also criticized some of her fellow councilmembers.  “They spoke from an emotional basis playing on people’s fears. That’s not what people elected us to do,” she said.

“They want to ramrod something down peoples’ throats, and they only want people who agree with their position at the meeting. That is not how democracy works.”

Lynette McElhaney, councilmember for District 3, voted for hire Bratton.

“Everybody agrees that OPD is broken. It does not serve and it does not protect, very well. People in charge of oversight say this is a department is in trouble,” she said.

Lynette McElhaney

Lynette McElhaney

McElhaney decided to vote to hire him, she said, because, “If I vote against this motion, I’m voting for the status quo. And the status is killing us, literally.”

Rev. Ken Chambers, pastor of West Side Missionary Baptist Church and Civic Chair of the Baptist Ministers Union, one of the faith leaders mobilized to attend Tuesday’s council meeting by Bishop Bob Jackson of Acts Full Gospel C.O.G.I.C.

“We´re in a state of emergency almost,” said Chambers, who backed the hiring of Bratton. “This is a time when we have to take some action to bring safety to our community.”

In addition to short-term steps, he said, there needs to be a comprehensive approach that emphasizes jobs, job training and quality education.

He also called on city leaders be sensitive to segments of the community who are apprehensive about aggressive policing methods.

The mayor and Council President Pat Kernighan “have to rise above the criticism and figure out how to get some consensus in the community,” Chambers said. “They need to figure out how to bring people together, though there are strong differences.”

Rashidah Grinage, executive director  of PUEBLO, says the vote for Bratton is spurring intensified organizing against police abuse.

“The city has woken the sleeping tiger,” she said. “As loud as we were, I don’t think they heard us. The city is not responsive to a broad section of the community.  It is very disrespectful.”

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, January 25, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

Police Consultant Protested

By Post staff

Hundreds of protesters filled Oakland City Council chambers this week to oppose spending $250,000 to give a short-term contract to nationally recognized police consultant Bill Bratton.

After five hours of passionate speeches by community members Tuesday evening at the Council’s Public Safety Committee, the four-member committee sent the resolution to hire Brattton to the full City Council for a decision at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

The resolution was modified, however, saying the police chief could consider hiring a consultant other than Bratton, former Los Angeles police chief and New York City police commissioner.

The controversy is based on Bratton’s connection to New York police department’s stop and frisk policy, which critics say frequently results in racial profiling and the harassment and unwarranted searches of Black and Latino young men.

Dan Siegel

Dan Siegel

New York police stopped and searched  “700,000 people last year, and what did they come up with? A handful of weapons.  What this (policy) is doing is stigmatizing people on the basis of race and age and what neighborhood they live in,” said Dan Siegel, Oakland civil rights attorney.

Hiring Bratton would essentially mean “the city would be thumbing its nose at (federal) Judge Thelton Henderson,” who is requiring Oakland to eliminate practices that amount to racial profiling of Oakland residents, said Siegel.

Given that a federal compliance director has not been yet appointed to oversee the police department, why is the city rushing towhy is the city rushing to hire a consultant before the federal appointee has a chance to weigh in on the decision, asks Rashidah Grinage, head of PUEBLO in Oakland, which has been active of many years promoting the accountability of police to Oakland residents.

Rashidah Grinage

Rashidah Grinage

 

¨The police chief is saying Bratton is not coming here to do stop and frisk,” said Grinage. But Bratton said in a television interview on CBS5:.“For any city to say they don’t do ‘stop-and-frisk’…I’m sorry, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Every police department in America does it. The challenge is to do it constitutionally within the law.”

According to Grinage, three othe four council members on the Public Safety Committee said they had not yet seen Bratton’s contract. Why are being asked to vote on something they haven’t seen?”

In addition, she said, Bratton will be paid $250,000 for just a few weeks’ work. “Some people say it’s for three months, but I heard three weeks,” she said.

Courtesy of the Oakland Post, January 18, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)

 

Bratton: Stop and Frisk Is Like “Radiation and Chemeotherapy for Crime”

Bratton: Stop and Frisk is Like “Radiation and Chemotherapy for Crime”

By Post Staff

Some Oakland residents are opposing the hiring of new Police Department consultant Bill Bratton, a former New York Police Commissioner and Los Angeles Chief, who is identified with “stop and frisk” police practices, which critics say frequently leads to racial profiling and the ongoing harassment of young Black and Latino men.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday, Jan. 15, on whether to pay the police consultant $250,000.
PUEBLO, (People United for a Better Life in Oakland), the city’s leading police accountability advocacy group, has begun a

Bill Bratton

Bill Bratton

neighborhood outreach campaign to get residents to attend their office to plan strategies to block the city proposal.

A federal judge on Monday ruled that a component of New York’s stop and frisk program is unconstitutional.

Bratton has used stop and frisk as a chief and continues to defend the practice.

“It was announced as a done deal,” said Rashidah Grinage of PUEBLO, referring to a press conference in December held by Mayor Jean Quan and Police Chief Howard Jordan, which presented the decision to hire Bratton.

“The community was never consulted,” she said. “(Bratton) apparently wants to focus more on community policing, but that involves finding out what the community thinks, rather than ramming it down our throats.”

“We have a history of the police being unwilling to collect the data (on routine police stops),” Grinage said. “(Bratton) has a reputation for racial profiling. It looks to me like the city is on absolute collision course” with federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who is requiring OPD to reduce practices that violate residents’ civil rights.

The police department has “a failing grade on the collection of racial profiling data,” she said.   “That is one of the things the new (court appointed) compliance director is supposed to be responsible for correcting.”

Councilmember Desley Brooks said, “I am confused about why we are hiring all of these people to do the job the police chief is supposed to do.  Where is all of the money going to come from?”

Bratton will be joining Bob Wasserman, head of the Boston-based Strategic Policy Partnership, who also has consulted many of the nation’s biggest cities on policing.

They will report to Jordan, Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana. Wasserman, who began in September, is conducting a “top-to-bottom” review of the department, Jordan said.

In an interview in March, Bratton compared using stop and frisk to fight crime to using chemotherapy and radiation to fight cancer.

While too high a dose can be fatal, the right amount can save a person’s — or a city’s — life, Bratton said.
“The challenge is to do it appropriately,” Bratton said. “Applied in the right way, in the right moderation, [chemotherapy and radiation] will cure most cancers. [Stop-and-frisk] is an intrusive power…but applied in the right way, it can have the effect of reducing crime.”

Courtesy of Oakland Post, January 8, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)