OAKLAND -- Police Chief Anthony Batts was viewed as a savior of the Oakland Police Department in his first month on the job.
After first turning down the position, the former Long Beach police chief decided to heed the call from Oakland officials desperate to find a charismatic leader for a troubled department.
Batts didn't disappoint.
He immediately went on a tour of the city, attending hundreds of community meetings, giving rousing speeches and listening patiently as residents hammered him with their frustration over a department that appeared unable to stem violent crime.
Batts made Oakland hopeful that its police department could change and become a partner with the community.
"The way he would go through a neighborhood, we never had anybody like that who seemed to really care," said Marilyn Harris, founder of the Khadafy Washington Foundation for Non-Violence. "He inspired a lot of people when he came. He talked to the people, and he really listened to them."
So it was no surprise Tuesday that residents said they were saddened by Batts' resignation, but most said it was not completely unexpected.
In his almost two-year tenure in Oakland, Batts began to lose the glow that surrounded his arrival.
A budget deficit at City Hall forced a massive reduction of the police force. A federal judge declared that the department was failing miserably in its attempt to reform after the Riders police misconduct scandal. Violent crime was on the rise.
And then, it was revealed this year that Batts was looking for a new job, in San Jose.
Batts was not chosen to lead the San Jose Police Department, but his decision to seek the job angered many who began to question his commitment to Oakland despite his attempts to quell the outrage.
"Most of the damage was done when the San Jose position became in play," said Don Link, leader of the Shattuck Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council. "At that point, most cops and a lot of residents viewed him as a short-timer."
Attorney John Burris, whose lawsuit against the department over the Riders scandal resulted in the federally mandated reforms, agreed that Batts' decision to seek the San Jose job hampered the chief's ability to lead in a trying time.
"There is no question that once he made that effort, the rank-and-file did not trust his commitment," Burris said. "It sent the wrong message to the officers and the community."
While many had placed their full faith in Batts and what they believed was his ability to lead, they said Tuesday that his departure does not leave the city hopeless.
"We hope the city can identify someone else who can work on strategies that will unify this community," said Ron Synder, executive director of Oakland Community Organizations. "We need to."
In fact, some groups cheered Batts' decision, saying his recent support of a curfew and the creation of additional civil gang injunctions was in contrast to his stated commitment to work with the community.
"The Stop the Injunction Coalition sees Batts' resignation ... as an opportunity to address public safety in a way that doesn't rely on costly, ineffective and destructive gang injunctions," said a statement from the group opposed to gang injunctions.
But Harris said finding a new chief with the same hope that Batts brought to the job will be difficult.
"Who are they going to put in there now?" she said. "I would love to know who would want this job."