OAKLAND -- A celebrated police consultant soon will return to Oakland to complete a crime reduction plan that has been slammed by council members and community leaders.
After initially praising the long-delayed 35-page report from Robert Wasserman, City Administrator Deanna Santana this week acknowledged that it lacked the level of detail and analysis called for in the consultant's $350,000 contract.
"We were expecting the report to comply with the scope we contracted for," Santana said. "It doesn't, but that doesn't mean he's derelict. It means there is more work that needs to be done."
Santana said Wasserman would make two return trips to Oakland and play a key role in producing a secondary report following a series of community input meetings over the next three months. Earlier this month, she and Mayor Jean Quan released statements thanking Wasserman for his work and indicating that the city would be responsible for hammering out the ultimate strategy.
Wasserman himself had called his Citywide Crime Reduction Strategy "the biggest piece" of a consulting program that last year brought recently reappointed New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton to Oakland.
Whereas Bratton's team advised police on improving investigations, decentralizing the command structure and analyzing crime trends, Wasserman's main job was to produce a report laying out how everyone from Public Works employees to average citizens could coordinate their efforts to bring down crime in California's most violent city.
Council members had been pressing for a citywide strategy for more than a year. But they were disappointed with Wasserman's report, which lacked the measurable crime reduction goals for city agencies that had been promised when they approved funding for it early last year.
While the report did include several recommendations, such as setting up crisis intervention teams and hiring a director to coordinate crime-reduction strategies, it also contained lengthy roundups of city programs and crime-fighting initiatives.
"He didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know," Councilman Larry Reid said. "My college-aged daughter could have written a report like that."
Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa defended the report, calling it "an excellent framework" to bring to the community for added discussion. Because the strategy involves multiple agencies, community groups and stakeholders, Figueroa said the city must get further input and backing before finalizing it.
Wasserman believed more public input was needed before the plan included the level of detail sought by city officials, said his spokeswoman, Jennifer Flagg. She also said Wasserman, who is working on Bratton's transition team in New York, always intended to return to Oakland to help implement the plan.
"He is committed to Oakland," she said. "There is a special place in his heart for that city."
Wasserman's report was originally scheduled for completion last summer, but was delayed as the police department changed leaders and rolled out a new command structure, Figueroa said. Wasserman has already been paid the full amount of his contract, city officials said. The city will pay his travel costs during his return trips to Oakland, but will not incur additional consulting fees.
Wasserman's contract called for him to oversee the final implementation and evaluation of the crime reduction plan. However, several of the well-connected community leaders and ministers who fought to bring him to Oakland are convinced that he never would have returned had they not pressed the issue to city officials.
"The reality is he was done here," said Geoff Collins of the Oakland Police Foundation. "Now the pressure has caught up to him and he has to finish what he started."
Frustration over the report grew this month when police supporters saw that Bratton and Wasserman had recently released what they considered to be a far more detailed report for the city of Baltimore. They grew more concerned when the city's initial public rollout of Wasserman's report occurred at a Community Policing Advisory Board meeting that was only attended by about one-third of the board's members.
"What happened at that board meeting -- that cannot be the rollout," said Bruce Nye of the citizen group Make Oakland Better Now. "There has to be a next step to having a real plan."
City officials say town hall meetings will begin soon and that Wasserman will attend at least one of them. The consultant's former boosters are looking forward to the sessions, Collins said. "We'll have some questions for him."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435. Follow him at Twitter.com/Matthew_Artz.