A big-time police chief who has worked from coast to coast is coming to help Oakland turn around a struggling and beleaguered department where this year's homicide rate is already at 127, a five-year high.
William J. Bratton, who has headed both the New York City and Los Angeles police departments, has been hired as a consultant, city leaders announced on Thursday.
"We don’t expect him to solve everything happening in Oakland," said Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan. "We’re on the right track. But when you are too close and you can't see the forest through the trees, you need help."
Added city councilwoman Patricia Kernighan: "He brings a real depth of experience because he’s been so many placing has track record is positive he is …likely to be helpful to us.”
Bratton is not being hired as a compliance director, a city spokesman said, which is a role that U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson will appoint. That monitor's job will be to formally oversee the Oakland Police Department and fix a long-running pattern of police brutality and racial profiling.
Bratton was not in attendance at a Thursday news conference in Oakland announcing his new position.
During Bratton's seven years in Los Angeles, Bratton oversaw a 45 percent drop in major crimes and a 41 percent drop in homicides. Crime in that city continued to drop after his departure in 2009.
His tenure in New York City from 1994 to 1996, where he was the police commissioner, also coincided with double-digit crime drops, according to reports. Bratton began his career at the Boston Police Department.
Bratton was called in last year to lead the official outside panel investigating the high-profile pepper-spray incident during an Occupy event at UC Davis. Also last year, Bratton was asked by the prime minister to be a short-term consultant in England to address issues of gang violence.
Crime in Oakland has hit the roof this year. Through November, burglaries were up 43 percent and robberies were up 24 percent. There have been 127 homicides so far this year, including one on Christmas Day.