Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana sent out a memo this afternoon announcing that police chief Anthony Batts will “resign his position effective early-to-mid November.” The communication included a memo from Batts to OPD staff.
Batts writes: “In 2009, I answered the call for a reform-minded chief, a leader with a focus on community policing and high professional standards. I was told Oakland residents were looking for a strong, visible leader to engage the community and reduce violent crime. My goal was to help rebuild a once proud, professional department, geared toard crime reduction and community service. With this goal in mind, rather than a chief managing a diverse department of law enforcement professionals making the streets of Oakland safe, I found myself with limited control, but full accountability. The landscape has changed radically over the past two years and with new and different challenges.”
Here is a video of Batts explaining his decision.
This would appear to end a rather tortured relationship between Batts and the city. Early this year, the city was rocked by news that the chief had applied for the San Jose Police Chief job. But Batts did not get the position, losing out to San Jose’s Acting Chief, Chris Moore.
In late January, the Oakland Tribune reported:
(Batts) hasn’t applied anywhere else, he said, but he refused to commit to Oakland for the long haul unless he sees the city do the same.
“This police department is underfunded and is in need of the very basics to get the job done,” Batts said. He had not spoken up until now, he said, because “the decisions were being made by my bosses.”
Asking to be quoted as Anthony Batts — rather than as the chief of police — Batts said the July layoffs of 80 officers were “a horrendous decision,” adding, “The police department cannot be seen as a pariah, with no support, sitting out there by itself.”
…As to his future, Batts said in a news release, “I have not made a final decision as to my future with this agency. It still needs to be determined if I am a fit for the city of Oakland’s vision for the future.” In an interview, he added, “I work my butt off. Unless there’s support on all sides, there’s no need for me to be here.”
In early February, the OPD announced Batts was staying, quoting him as “ready to roll up his sleeves and get back to work.”
In March, Batts answered reports of a strained relationship with new Mayor Jean Quan.
“You know, the goofiest thing, you guys keep reporting that we have issues or we’re bickering. And I read that, because I mean…where the heck are you getting that from? …My relationship is good with the mayor….But would you guys stop reporting this stuff? I don’t know where you’re picking it up from. Holy smokes!” He also said, “You guys keep talking about the San Jose thing that popped up. That was like two months ago..I’m not looking for another job. I have no anticipation of looking for another job. Oakland. Go Raiders.”
To The City Employees of the Oakland Police Department:
It is with great regret that I tender this official notice of my intent to resign as Chief of Police for the City of Oakland.
In 2009, I answered the call for a reform-minded chief; a leader with a focus on community policing and high professional standards. I was told Oakland residents were looking for a strong, visible leader to engage the community and reduce violent crime. My goal was to help rebuild a once proud, professional department, geared toard crime reduction and community service.
With this goal in mind, rather than a chief managing a diverse department of law enforcement professionals making the streets of Oakland safe, I found myself with limited control, but full accountability. The landscape has changed radically over the past two years and with new and different challenges.
The Oakland Police Department has many diligent and hard-working employees. I have observed tremendous work ethic from professional staff and sworn staff alike. You have made me very proud to be a part of this team, and the OPD rich tradition and legacy.
I ask that all of you continue to stand tall and proud during these very trying times. You are not thanked nor praised enough for what you produce with such little resources and equipment.
Moreover, never forget the only reason we exist is to serve the community and residents of Oakland in the way that they wish for us to serve them. This may necessitate change on our part, to look forward and not to the past. Change is constant, and the best organizations continue to adapt and change.
Anthony W. Batts
Chief of Police
Here’s the release from City Administrator Deanna Santana, in which she mentions the mid-November date:
I write to announce that Chief Anthony Batts has submitted his intent to resign his position effective early-to-mid November. While I am confident that chief Batts will take on new and prestigious opportunities, I regret that I will not be able to continue to work with him on our mutual goal of improved community policing and full compliance with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). However, I feel comforted by the talent in the organization and the broad range of law enforcement expertise and commitment.
Chief Batts and I are in process of settling on a departure date and, in the interim, I will be exploring my options on how to proceed. Please join me in thanking Chief Batts for his service to the City of Oakland and tireless commitment to implementing the Civil Rights mandates of the NSA. I want to especially acknowledge the deep community relationships that Chief Batts has developed toward improving community relations and advancing community policing. These efforts demonstrate a true commitment to his goal to rebuild trust and focus on crime reduction and community service.
Today is about the accomplishment of Chief Batts, I will have additional announcements regarding leadership of the Oakland Police Dept at a later time.
Deanna J. Santana,