A consultant helping to devise a crime suppression strategy urged Oakland residents last night to become involved with crime prevention efforts, saying it was essential to the strategy’s success, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The suggestion by Robert Wasserman, a former Houston police chief, was at the center of a nearly hour-long speech, in which he emphasized closer ties between Oaklanders and their police department. Closer ties, Wasserman said, would be paralleled by a series of efforts to restructure the department and make officers more responsive to specific geographic areas.
Wasserman kept returning to the theme of community engagement. “This all will only work if everybody in this city gets involved and everybody in the government gets involved,” he said. “That’s our challenge.” The City Council hired Wasserman for $350,000 to help get a handle on the city’s crime, already the state’s worst before a spike last year. His efforts are critical to the tenure of Mayor Jean Quan, who has seen crime rise in each of her two years in office. At a news conference yesterday, former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton, who is working with Wasserman, said he would focus on three types of crimes: robberies, homicides and burglaries, which he said are often committed by the same individuals. Based on the number of violent crimes, Wasserman believes Oakland has “the most understaffed police department” in the U.S.