Oakland Hires Famed Former New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton, But His Role Is Unclear

One of the most prominent American policemen will try his hand at sorting out the Gordian Knot that is the Oakland Police Department. City officials announced yesterday they intend to hire William Bratton, a senior consultant with the risk management firm Kroll Associates and the former police commissioner of New York City and Los Angeles, as a consultant.

Bratton will be working to help OPD fight a spiking crime rate — but not to bring the department into compliance with its decade-old federally mandated reforms.

Bratton will be the third former police chief working as a consultant for OPD in recent years. His predecessors have not gotten along with city officials: Robert Warshaw, the former police chief of Rochester and current court-appointed monitor, has clashed repeatedly with City Administrator Deanna Santana, while former Baltimore police commissioner Thomas Frazier, who was hired to review OPD’s response to Occupy Oakland last fall, strongly objected to Santana’s efforts to censor a highly critical report prepared by his firm.

City officials say Bratton will be paid under a $250,000 agreement with Strategic Policy Partnership, a firm already retained by Oakland to review OPD’s best practices and crime reduction strategies. Court documents show Oakland has spent just under $1 million on consultant contracts related to the consent decree in 2012, excluding the new deal that will bring Bratton to Oakland.

Civil rights attorney Jim Chanin — who along with the City of Oakland and fellow attorney John Burris, recently agreed to appoint a “compliance director” to speed up OPD’s reform efforts — questioned the necessity of hiring Bratton, especially given the costs taxpayers are already shouldering for city-hired consultants. “I can’t see any reason why they need to hire yet another consultant,” he said.

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