The Oakland City Council has decided to hire the police-consulting firm of William Bratton to help lower that city’s crime rate, and therein lies a tale, of sorts. Bratton was police chief in both Los Angeles and New York, and during his tenures in those cities, crime rates dropped.
Bratton’s chief assumption was that criminals commit crimes. He took actions to weed out people who might lean toward crime.
One of the things he did was employ a policy called Stop and Frisk. If somebody looked suspicious, officers had permission to stop them, check their ID’s and pat them down. If they passed muster, they received the officer’s thanks and were sent on their ways.
A surprising number, however, did not pass. They were found to be illegally armed, or in possession of drugs, or to be on somebody’s wanted list.
Another thing Bratton did was to put a lot of cops in areas of his cities where crime rates were highest.
The results of those simple-seeming tactics were that crime rates dropped quickly. Criminals, knowing they might be stopped and frisked, or that a cop might show up fast upon a victim’s reporting a crime, sought other employment.
In Oakland, there has been an outcry against Stop and Frisk.
Opponents say it is racist, because in some neighborhoods, most of those stopped and frisked are African American or Hispanic. But the people in those neighborhoods also are the most victimized by crimes.
Stop and Frisk is legal, by the way, and is practiced in many cities.
The good people of Oakland should keep a close eye on the results of any new policies that result from Bratton’s work. If crime goes down, they will benefit. But racial complaints could rise, which could make the policies tough to defend if crime rates don’t drop.