The Oakland City Council today approved the hiring of William Bratton, a well-known but controversial police consultant, whose potential hire prompted hundreds of Oaklanders with competing views to cram into City Hall, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Mayor Jean Quan sought the hire of Bratton, a former police chief in New York City and Los Angeles known for aggressive tactics, to develop a public safety plan in the state’s most violent city.
With Oakland facing a growing and historic public safety crisis, Police Chief Howard Jordan called Bratton’s hire important and referred to him “one of the brightest minds in policing.” The council agreed, voting 7-1 to hire Bratton after a more than nine-hour meeting. “We have got to change – radically,” said Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney. “We have go to do something different [ ] The reason I’m not afraid of the bogey man named Bratton is that we have tremendous community oversight.” Critics had pounced on Bratton’s record, which in New York included support for an aggressive form of “stop and frisk,” a practice that allows police officers to stop people they deem suspicious and, if they’re suspected of being armed, pat them down for weapons. Opponents of Bratton in Oakland said his approach would lead to widespread racial profiling.