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Oakland Crime Fighting Consultant Defends 'Stop-And-Frisk'

OAKLAND (CBS 5) -- The City of Oakland City Council is set to vote on the contract to hire former Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton as a crime fighting consultant. In an interview with CBS 5, Bratton talked about his crime fighting strategy and his support of the practice called "stop-and-frisk."

Bratton, who was also Police Commissioner in New York City, has been widely credited for turning around crime problems in both cities. Oakland is looking to hire the consultant for $250,000, to help the police department come up with a crime fighting strategy.

If approved by the City Council on Tuesday, Bratton would begin working for the city on February 10th.

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"I will be in and out of the city over the period of several months," Bratton told CBS 5 in a satellite interview from New York. "I am not coming in to spend three or four months continually. This is a very small contract."

CBS 5: "There are some who are questioning the wisdom of paying $250,000 in a city that is cash strapped to a consultant. What do you say to those critics?"

Bratton: "That's up to the Mayor and City Council I'm quite clear about my capabilities. The issues your city is facing, particularly, issues involving not only a crime situation, but also trying to address it at the same time when you have so much oversight, there's probably nobody in America that has more first hand experience with that issue than I do, having just recently come out of Los Angeles.

"And in light of your past weekend out there in Oakland, where you had four murders and 15 people shot…I think any money the city spends on trying to deal with this epidemic that you have, and it is truly an epidemic, is money well spent."

In 2007, CBS5 paid a visit to Bratton in Los Angeles. He highlighted the "Compstat" program, which emphasizes the use of computerized crime statistics. Bratton also emphasized rebuilding broken relationships between the department and the community. But not every policy is popular.

CBS 5: "You've been a supporter of 'stop-and-frisk' policies as well as youth curfews, both of which would be highly controversial, if not impossible to implement in Oakland. Would 'stop-and-frisk' be an answer here?"

Bratton: "For any city to say they don't do 'stop-and-frisk'…I'm sorry, they don't know what the hell they're talking about. Every police department in America does it. The challenge is to do it constitutionally within the law. The challenge is to do it compassionately; you're dealing with human beings. And the challenge is to do it consistently so you cannot be accused that you're only doing it in one neighborhood in the city or directed against one population of the city."

CBS 5: "But already there are folks here who've said if you try that, they're going to fight it tooth and nail."

Bratton: "Well, what do they think the average Oakland cop is doing today? When he stops somebody for a traffic violation, he stops somebody that he has a reasonable suspicion that committed a crime or is about to commit a crime. This idea that somehow or another police can function without it? I'm sorry, but any police department in America that tries to function without some form of 'stop-and-frisk,' or whatever terminology they use, is doomed to failure. It's that simple."

According to the New York Police Department, the practice allows a person to be stopped, questioned and possibly frisked, "When a police officer reasonably suspects that a person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a felony or a Penal Law misdemeanor."

Civil rights groups in New York are suing police for stopping and searching people in privately-owned buildings, after officers were given access by landlords.

"If there's a 'stop-and-frisk' policy that is constitutional, I'm not against that," said Oakland attorney John Burris, who promised he will be watching closely.

"You don't get to stop random people walking down the street, just because they're an African-American male, just because they're young, just because they live in a certain neighborhood," Burris said. "We're against that. And if that's how the policy is going to come out, there's going to be a lot more litigation in this town."

Bratton told CBS 5 he also has a consulting contract in Detroit and a proposal to consult police in Baltimore, which recently hired former Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts to lead the force.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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