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Exclusive: New Oakland Chief Outlines Improvement Plan

September 15, 2009  | 


Chief Tony Batts attends a community event in Long Beach, Calif. He takes over as Oakland's new police chief in October.

On the eve of taking over as the Oakland Police Department's top cop, Anthony Batts told POLICE Magazine the department needs technological modernization, better crime statistics and a nudge to heal from the loss of four officers killed by a desperate parolee in March.

In an exclusive interview with the magazine that's available in the podcast section of the website, Batts said he's suited to lead the department because earlier assignments have put him in fix-it mode.

"One of the cornerstones of my career [has been] going into locations or teams that have been seen as dysfunctional," Batts said from his Long Beach office. "The critical piece is then building a team and trying to make a shift. Its so much what you do, but giving people the opportunity to shine."

Batts arrives from Long Beach, Calif., a city with similar demographics, where crime fell in six of his seven years as chief. When he starts in Oakland in October, Batts plans to leverage resources from contacts at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, National Institute of Justice, San Francisco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

After starting with the Long Beach PD on a neighborhood watch assignment, Batts rose through the ranks to become chief in 2002. As a member of the command staff, he helped modernize the department by reshaping firearms training in the academy, encouraging officers to use TASERs before batons to gain compliance from suspects and adopting license-plate readers and clone screens for patrol vehicles.

For its firearms training, the department had emphasized static firing and training officers on revolvers, or "wheel" guns. Batts lobbied for combat-style firearms training and semiautomatic pistol training.

Listen to the podcast to hear more about what Batts has in store for the Oakland PD.


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