Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts’ decision to apply for the job of San Jose police chief apparently had nothing to do with the election of Mayor Jean Quan. Batts threw his hat in the ring for the San Jose job before Quan was elected, the new mayor said the police chief told her. “They sought him out in October,” Quan said, referring to San Jose officials who recruited Batts.
Since the news broke that Batts was one of two finalists for the San Jose job, some have speculated that it might have been in reaction to Quan’s election. Quan, after all, had voted with four other city council members in July to lay off eighty cops after the police union refused to contribute to its pension plan. Quan also had come under criticism for her involvement in a faceoff between cops and demonstrators protesting the Johannes Mehserle verdict.
But Batts agreed to be a candidate for the San Jose police chief’s job before it was known that Quan was going to become mayor of Oakland. In fact, when Batts applied in October, ex-state Senator Don Perata was the favorite to win the Oakland mayor’s race.
Batts is known as being quite ambitious, and the San Jose job is considered a challenge in police circles. San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area and the third largest in the state. In addition, the San Jose police department has been plagued with scandal for allegedly targeting minority residents.