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FILE - In this Aug. 6, 2009, file photo Los Angeles Police Department Chief William Bratton speaks in the Hollywood of Los Angeles. Bratton's department developed the program, known as iWATCH, and calls it the 21st century version of Neighborhood Watch. The nation's big city police chiefs are expected to endorse the anti-terrorism community watch program to educate more people than ever about what behavior is truly suspicious and ought to be reported to police. (AP Photo/Philip Scott Andrews, FILE)
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OAKLAND -- In a critique that should sound eerily familiar to Oakland police leaders, a star-studded consultant team on Thursday said the department needed to beef up investigative units and improve its focus on identifying crime trends in order to reduce sky-high rates of burglaries, robberies and shootings.

The team, headed by former New York City and Los Angeles police Chief William Bratton, found that Oakland police effectively were not investigating burglaries in a city where the crime jumped 43 percent last year.

The consultants recommended creating geographically-based investigative units to better respond to burglaries and robberies. They also called for major changes in the city's Compstat process -- a weekly high-level data-crunching session that uses crime mapping to focus top commanders and district leaders on identifying hot spots and responding to crime trends.

"When this is fully implemented, this is going to ... reduce crime in the city," Patrick Harnett, a retired Hartford police chief and longtime Bratton associate, said at a Thursday news conference. Bratton did not attend the event.

City leaders turned to Bratton and his associates earlier this year after a particularly violent 2012 during which the city recorded 131 homicides and averaged 12 robberies and 33 burglaries a day.

Their report is seen as a road map for helping the department bring down crime, especially robberies, burglaries and shootings, after two years of major spikes.

Mayor Jean Quan said she expected to see significant crime reduction within six months. Acting Chief Anthony Toribio said the department's "core strategy" centers on implementing the plan.

Several members of Bratton's team had proposed similar reforms six years ago, but few were implemented by department brass.

The consultants' full report was not released Thursday because it contained specific crime strategies that needed to remain private, council members said. A redacted version of the report is scheduled for release Friday. City officials who saw a draft of the final report did not recall it singling out former police Chief Howard Jordan for criticism.

Jordan abruptly announced Wednesday that he was going out on medical leave and planning to retire -- the day the Bratton report was scheduled to be released.

Toribio said, "The report is very critical of the police department in certain areas. And we welcome the criticism because we want to get better."

Crime fighting plan

The consultants primary task was to improve Oakland's Compstat meetings -- a process spearheaded by Bratton in New York City.

Oakland's system, which has been in effect for more than seven years, functioned more like a series of presentations rather than a "probing dialogue between the department's top commanders," the consultants wrote. Captains were not being held responsible for their knowledge of crime in their districts and there was little coordination with investigators.

With the department in the process of dividing Oakland into five policing districts, the consultants recommended setting up investigative units for each district that would focus on robberies, burglaries, assaults and shootings.

The centralized investigative unit has been too slow to respond to robberies and interview victims, they wrote, "losing momentum on the investigation of pattern robberies."

They envisioned the units including three experienced investigators and three to four police officers per district -- a major boost of investigative capacity for a department that currently has only a part-time investigator working burglaries and six investigators working robberies.

"Essentially burglaries have gone through the roof," said consulting team member William Andrews. "It's got to be stopped. And the way to do it is to assign burglary investigators to hunt down the burglars."

However, given the department's low staffing levels, Andrews noted that to beef up investigations, "you've got to make some difficult decisions."

Déjà vu

Harnett and Andrews, another longtime associate of Bratton's, are no strangers to Oakland. The duo was paid $50,000 six years ago to produce a report that made several of the same recommendations that they are once again making as members of the Bratton team, which the city is paying $250,000.

However, the police department, citing staffing and equipment shortages, never implemented many of the recommendations -- a point that was not lost on the rank-and-file.

"The overall view I have is déjà vu," said Sgt. Barry Donelan, who heads the city's police union. "These are once again recommendations that may work great, but the implementation requires resources, and there's not enough resources."

Repeat recommendations included critiques that investigators weren't providing digital photographs of previously arrested persons to robbery victims and that fingerprint evidence from burglary scenes weren't promptly processed through identification systems.

When it came to Compstat, the consultants simply rephrased several of the recommendations they made six years ago.

In 2007, the consultants said the meetings lacked a "crime fighter" who could "question the police captains and lieutenants presenting at the podium." The new report said there was no "true primary questioner pressing for answers to the critical questions about specific crime problems."

The first report also criticized the department for not delving "into the details of crimes and crime patterns." This year, the consultants said that the "Compstat presentations were too general and did not deal with crime specifics."

When asked about the department's failure to implement the prior recommendations, Toribio said, "What is different now is we are committed to implementing the recommendations that the Bratton Group is recommending."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435 or martz@bayareanewsgroup.com.