Future in doubt for Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts
Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts will not become San Jose’s new Chief of Police after he was not selected to fill the vacant position. The decision raised uncertainty about whether the veteran police officer would remain with the Oakland force.
“I have not made a final decision as to my future with this agency,” Batts said in a statement. “It still needs to be determined if I am a fit for the City of Oakland’s vision for the future.”
Speaking with reporters after the announcement, Batts indicated that he was frustrated by the lack of support his department was receiving from city government and residents. In 2010, the city eliminated 80 police officer positions from the force, dwindling its ranks to 656 uniformed personnel and stretching resources thin citywide.
“The police department cannot be seen as a pariah, with no support, sitting out there by itself,” Batts told the Oakland Tribune. He asked the newspaper to omit his title — Chief of Police — from attribution for the interview.
He pointed to a slew of equipment malfunctions and shortages that have kept officers from effectively patrolling the city. His comments come on the heels of a highly-publicized radio communications failure that prevented officers from speaking with dispatchers Wednesday afternoon when an armed pursuit suspect who was shot by an Oakland officer. Officers were not able to call for an ambulance for the man, who died from his wounds.
Batts competed with acting San Jose Police Chief Chris Moore for the vacant post, a revelation he made public last week when he informed the Oakland Police Officer’s Association that he was one of two finalists for the job.
Critics reacted to the news by accusing him of lacking dedication to Oakland after serving more than one year of a three year contract with the force. It remained unclear whether he would stay with the department after Thursday’s announcement, despite being widely popular with city residents who identified with his visionary outlook on reducing crime.
“In order to make significant improvements to the quality of life for the residents, collective coordination and cooperation must be a priority for ensuring public safety,” Batts said in his statement.
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