William J. Bratton: Motorola’s Hi-Tech Super-Cop

BrattonAmong other noteworthy details surrounding William J. Bratton’s new advisory contract with Oakland to beef up the city’s police department are Bratton’s ties to Motorola Solutions.

Motorola Solutions is already one of Oakland’s biggest vendors. The company has sold Oakland millions of dollars in equipment over the past ten years, mostly for use by the police. This year alone Motorola will probably bill the city for several million in goods and service.

William J. Bratton is currently a board member of Motorola Solutions, as well as a shareholder in the company. While Bratton’s position at Motorola is relatively new, his advocacy of expensive, hi-tech weaponry and systems for cops isn’t. In fact just three years before he joined Motorola, while he was chief of police in Los Angeles, Bratton oversaw approval of multi-million dollar contracts between Motorola Solutions and his police force.

As he has shuttled in and out of government posts and private corporations over the years, Bratton has grown into the classic revolving door figure, using his connections and prestige to link corporations with public agencies, playing matchmaker and facilitating lucrative contracts. This is in fact why Motorola tapped Bratton in join their board in 2010. According to a Motorola company filing, “Mr. Bratton’s significant experience in law enforcement both in the U.S. and abroad and his insight in criminal justice system operations,” have qualified him to occupy a seat on the board as an independent director. In 2011 Motorola Solutions paid Bratton $100,000 in fees, and another $160,033 in stock awards.

Like a lot of police departments, the OPD already does business with Motorola Solutions, a lot of it.

One of Oakland’s single largest contracts is an $8.45 million deal with Motorola for a suite of computer and mobile communications gadgets known as the Integrated Public Safety Services System, or IPSS. According to City Council reports from 2002 in addition to the $8.45 million to purchase the IPSS, the city also approved spending an additional $5.25 million on a five year maintenance contract also with Motorola, and another $3 million for “non-recurring costs for products and services,” related to the IPSS.

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A screenshot from Motorola Solutions’ web site. The company is one of the largest vendors of communications and surveillance equipment to police forces in the United States.

A little background on how Motorola got the Oakland contract can help to shed some light on the big business that is police technology. In 1998 Oakland was awarded a $6.18 million federal grant, aptly named “COPS MORE”, to equip the force with state of the art communications and computing tools. By 2001 the city was preparing to put contracts out to bid for technology companies to develop a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, Records Management System (RMS), Automated (Field) Reporting System (FRS) and a Jail Management System (JMS) for Oakland’s police.

In 2002 Motorola, being a big cash-flush company, bought up one of the vendors Oakland was in talks with to potentially develop their new police technologies. Motorola, which was already expanding aggressively into the field of police technology —local “security” being a rapidly growing market after 9-11— lobbied Oakland’s administrator and staff to choose the company for one single contract, instead of the planned multiple contracts with multiple vendors. (Motorola registered as a lobbyist with the city of Oakland in 2003) Motorola’s salespeople visited Oakland and did their best to convince the police and city administrator to consolidate the work into one big order. Then they invited Oakland staff to Los Angeles for a meeting. Then, as the city administrator described it in a 2002 report:

“One week after the OIT [Oakland’s Office of Information Technology] Director’s visit with Motorola [in Los Angeles], members of the OIT/OPD/OFD [Oakland’s tech, police, and fire] staff attended the Motorola/Printrak Users Group Conference. Motorola presented its new direction to the conference attendees from across the USA and other countries around the world.  After considering the new direction as presented by Motorola and assessing the fact finding discussions held with the local government users at the Motorola/Printrak users group conference, OIT/OPD/OFD decided to change the course of the project as previously planned.  Rather than proceeding with a multi-vendor solution, staff believes that it is now possible to proceed with a single vendor solution (i.e. Motorola/Printrak).” (Office of Information Technology to Office of the City Manager, “A Status Report From the Office of Information Technology (OIT) On the Acquisition and Implementation of the Integrated Police/Fire Public Safety System and the COPSMORE Grant,” memorandum, City of Oakland, May 14, 2002)

This more or less worked out well for Motorola, and the company has made millions from the contract. The city ended up reporting some problems with the IPSS system, problems that were messing with OPD’s compliance with the federal consent decree. In 2005 the Independent Monitoring Team found that OPD’s “monitoring of MDT [mobile data terminal] traffic is impeded by computer software limitations, and that “there have been difficulties in implementing the original Mobile Module Motorola provided.” (OPD, “Negotiated Settlement Agreement, Fourth Semi-Annual Report,” May, 25, 2005)

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A screenshot from Motorola Solutions’ web site. The company is one of the largest vendors of communications and surveillance equipment to police forces in the United States.

In 2010 and 2011, the last years for which information is available, Oakland spent $2.88 million on the IPSS maintenance, a cost that will likely continue so long as Motorola’s system provides the city with its data and communications integration for the police department (“2009-11 Proposed Policy Budget” City of Oakland, p. Y-79).

Another business deal with Motorola went completely haywire and was a small setback in OPD’s efforts to comply with the federal consent decree. In 2007 Oakland spent at least $65,000 on a software program called Evalis from a company named CRISNet. The purchase was meant to provide another technological solution to the department’s continuing inability to comply with the federal consent decree stemming from officer abuses and departmental incompetence. Evalis was a database that was to be used to identify “at-risk behavior activities” of officers, meaning it was a way for OPD to pinpoint bad cops with particularly egregious records of brutality, civil rights violations, and other criminal tendencies.

Just like with the IPSS system that was being developed by a small independent company, Motorola swooped in late in the game and bought out CRISNet, making that company’s contract with Oakland now Motorola’s. Then Motorola Solutions turned around and demanded more money from Oakland than was agreed to previously with CRISNet. Motorola claimed the Evalis system would be expensive to integrate into the company’s own product suites. Oakland balked and cancelled the contract, choosing to develop a system based on the existing Evalis software in place, using the city’s own technical staff.

The City Auditor’s Office, which analyzed the Evalis fiasco in a report last year, was not amused; “Regardless, the result is that OPD lost at least $65,000 on the Evalis system.” OPD claimed, however, that it was Motorola’s fault, and the cops had a point. In a press release responding to the City Auditor OPD stated, “the system was not used because Motorola bought Evalis after our purchase and its support of Evalis was cost prohibitive.” In other words, Motorola Solutions was trying to squeeze more money from Oakland.

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Motorola Solutions sells the “connected law enforcement officer,” from a screenshot of the company’s web site.

Motorola has other business with the city, more police gadgets and software, all of which is supposed to bring OPD into the 21st Century and help the department comply with the federal court’s orders.

Between 2005-2007 Oakland also paid Motorola $40,000 to provide technical support for the police radio system. Motorola also sold Oakland 63 hand held Jaguar radios and in-vehicle equipment used with these radios for a total price of $140,000 (“Proposed Policy Budget FY2005-07,” City of Oakland, pp. D-191 and D-193).

Bratton, a supposed “super-cop” who is widely perceived as having modernized and professionalized the LAPD and NYPD, has over the last decade emerged as a proponent of various hi-tech police gadgets and systems.This is partly why Motorola Solutions has given him a board position and stock in the company.

Having built a reputation as a police disciplinarian during the mid-1990s when he ran the NYPD, Bratton began selling his expertise to any police agency willing to pay for it. Bratton created his own consultancy in 2000, the Bratton Group, LLC, and contracted with police forces in the US and “four continents,” according to his official biography. Shortly into his lucrative career as a private consultant Bratton joined Kroll Inc.’s Public Services Safety Group and Crisis and Consulting Management Group, eventually becoming Chairman of Kroll until it was purchased by Altegrity. In a way Kroll got Bratton his job with the LAPD. Bratton was part of the Independent Monitor’s team overseeing that city’s consent decree.

In 2007 Bratton sounded like the Motorola Solutions salesman he would later become when he and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa held a press event to celebrate a panoptic wireless surveillance system the LAPD had installed in a public housing development. “Motorola’s wireless broadband network allows our officers to have information when they need it most to manage an incident, to inform first responders as they arrive at a scene aware of what they will face, and to use video to size up an uncertain situation,” beamed Chief Bratton. “Since the cameras were installed, major crime has dropped 32 percent in Jordan Downs in the last two months, compared to the same period last year.”

Motorola also sells a lot of goods to Bratton’s other former police employer, the NYPD. In fact Motorola employs no less than twelve lobbyists to influence how New York’s officials spend their billions of taxpayer dollars on radios, computers, cameras, and other police technology.

Just to give you a sense of how big a can of worms Motorola has become, Bratton is hardly the most politically connected ex-government figure on the board. Fellow board member Michael Hayden ran the CIA from 2006 to 2009, and prior to being head spook of the USA he ran the National Security Agency, all after spending a career in the Air Force. Needless to say, Motorola Solutions isn’t just tapping police departments through Bratton’s prestige and connections for future business, they’re also selling a lot of widgets to the military and federal spy agencies. But this is all another story….

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