Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts officially announced his resignation at a City Hall press conference Tuesday afternoon, saying he was taking a part-time teaching position at Harvard University, where he said he also plans to do research. Batts also blamed “city bureaucracy” for why he is leaving, essentially saying that he had too many bosses in Oakland.
Batts has been unhappy in Oakland for some time. One year ago, before the mayor’s election, he quietly applied to be San Jose’s police chief. He ultimately did not get the job, but decided to stay in Oakland. Still, he has made it clear that he was upset about the police department losing 20 percent of its force in budget cutting moves. City tax revenues have been decimated by the recession and are down more than 20 percent in the past few years.
Batts also has struggled to live up to the reforms mandated in the Riders’ case. After the press conference, civil rights attorneys John Burris and Jim Chanin said they were disappointed that Batts had not made more progress in reforming the department since taking over in 2009. There also is a concern in the city that federal Judge Thelton Henderson may put the department into federal receivership in January because of the lack of progress.
City Administrator Deanna Santana and Mayor Jean Quan, who was on hand and who appeared to be visibly unhappy with Batts and his decision, said that there would be an announcement of an interim chief soon. Batts’ resignation comes just days before he and the mayor were supposed to hold a citywide public safety summit and less than a week before Oakland voters will begin voting on an $11 million annual parcel tax of which a substantial percentage is to go to police.