In his first week on the job, Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts asked high-ranking officers to draw up an organizational chart of the city’s most active criminal enterprises, and explain their structure and hierarchy, from shot-caller to street soldier. No one could do it, says San Francisco Chronicle columnist Chip Johnson. At 49, Batts “is well spoken, comfortable with himself and confident, but not arrogant,” Johnson says. What sets him apart from his predecessors is that he has a plan to restructure the department and address some of the most serious crimes affecting the city.
“I think the (Oakland) Police Department is broken, and we have a tough time providing even basic services,” Batts said. “We have dissatisfied residents who call the police and don’t get results, and that’s our core function.” With 17 vacancies in the police dispatch center, and without accurate data on crime organizations or the technological sophistication to collect it, the department is operating at a distinct disadvantage, Batts said. Thus at the top of his to-do list is a departmental restructuring to provide more efficient basic services and an attack on the city’s organized criminal enterprises.