OAKLAND -- Like many who step into the crossfire of Oakland's public safety debate, noted law enforcement consultant Robert Wasserman quickly became a polarizing figure subjected to hoots and hollers from police critics.

But with the release of his third and final report aimed at fighting crime in California's most violent city, the sharpest critiques are coming from some of the same people who fought to bring him to town.

Without any public announcement, city officials this week released Wasserman's citywide crime reduction plan -- a long-awaited report laying out how everyone in Oakland from the Public Works Department to average residents can help bring down crime.

The document is the final piece of a $350,000 consulting program. The program included advice from famed police Chief Bill Bratton that was geared toward helping Oakland's undermanned Police Department get a handle on surging crime and restoring public confidence in the department and city leaders.

While many police advocates continue to endorse the overall effort, several panned the final report from Wasserman. They noted that the 35-page document devoted nine pages to listing city services -- including fitness boot camps and boating classes -- but didn't analyze which programs were effective in tackling crime or specify how city services could be better coordinated to help police.


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"I'm very disappointed," said Bruce Nye of the citizens group Make Oakland Better Now. "The reason we were supportive is we think the city needs a comprehensive public safety plan, but we got something superficial."

Councilwoman Desley Brooks, who voted against the consulting contract, said Wasserman's report lacked what the City Council had been promised in writing when it approved funding for it: "realistic crime reduction goals that are measurable and involve all relevant city agencies and resources."

"While the report lists the various programs and makes general statements about how everyone needs to be committed and work together to address our public safety issues, it does not provide a critical analysis of existing programs, their efficacy, or their relationship in an overarching crime reduction strategy," Brooks said in an email. "The report states the obvious: good policing and strong community buy-in and partnership will help reduce crime."

Bishop Bob Jackson, who last year urged the City Council to approve the expansion of Wasserman's role over the vocal objections of police critics, said the report recapped some of the city's recent initiatives, but lacked strong recommendations for moving forward.

"I thought we would have something a little more hands on," said Jackson, the leader of Acts Full Gospel Church in East Oakland.

Wasserman was unavailable for comment Thursday and Friday, said his media aide, Jennifer Flagg. Council members contacted this week said they had not yet read the report.

In a prepared statement, City Administrator Deanna Santana said that Wasserman's plan was "more general" because it was the city's job to take his inventory of city services and get community input in determining how they can help reduce crime.

"Mr. Wasserman offers a recipe that ultimately identifies and calls on key groups on many different levels within our city to work together," she said.

Oakland's lack of a citywide crime reduction strategy made headlines in 2012 as homicides, robberies and burglaries jumped for the second consecutive year. The City Council briefly made development of the strategy a prerequisite for funding new police academies. When police leaders said they lacked the staffing to do it themselves, the city turned to Wasserman, who it already had retained to do an assessment of the department.

Wasserman then brought in Bratton to conduct a short-term crime-fighting strategy, while he focused on a best-practices report, which was released last year, and the citywide plan. Bratton's full-throated defense of the controversial stop-and-frisk police tactic turned Oakland police critics against the consulting effort, including Wasserman's work.

In his latest report, Wasserman says that Oakland must change a culture in which residents are quick to give opinions but slow to "take personal responsibility to act in coordination with others."

He called on the city to hire a director of community improvement responsible for coordinating crime-reduction strategies among city departments and community groups with an emphasis on quality-of-life issues such as vandalism. The director would be advised by a citizen committee appointed by the mayor.

Wasserman also recommended creating crisis intervention teams to defuse potential disorderly acts, expanding the city's Operation Ceasefire anti-violence program, seeking help from the Environmental Protection Agency to help deal with illegally dumped trash and inviting George Kelling, founder of the "broken windows" theory of focusing on quality-of-life crimes, to Oakland.

When it comes to police staffing, Wasserman recommended two officers per every 1,000 residents, which equals about 800 -- far fewer than the 624 currently on the force.

Oakland Police Foundation member Geoff Collins said he was expecting more analysis about the number of officers Oakland needs and the programs that can help bring down crime.

"Anyone can give a list of all the programs and say get involved," he said. "There is no strategy there."

It is still too early to judge the effectiveness of the consulting effort. Bratton's report released in the spring advised the department on how to better analyze crime data, investigate burglaries and robberies and divide the city into police districts.

Although many of Bratton's recommendations were nearly identical to those laid out in a consultant's report six years earlier, the city has credited the move to police districts last June for helping better fight crime. Robberies dropped about 5 percent in the second half of last year compared to the first six months of last year, though major crimes overall were up by nearly the same margin, according to police statistics.

Don Link, a community policing leader in North Oakland, said he has seen crime reduced in his neighborhood and thinks Wasserman's and Bratton's work will help the entire city.

"We've had two guys who have given us a road map ... to be successful and sustain that success," he said. "I don't think I've ever been as optimistic about Oakland effectively addressing crime and violence."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435