He recalls a conversation in which Batts warned him that their time together would be an intense ride and require Luna's full commitment. "He told me, 'Buckle up, big boy.'"
"I'll warn the cops there, that man is intense," Luna said. "He has very high standards, from a policing perspective. If somebody was shot, he wants to know about it and wants to make sure his command is aware of it."
Crime dropped under Batts to the lowest levels since the 1970s, according to news reports, even though the department dealt with several years of budget cuts.
Luna, a Mexican-American, said he looked up to Batts, a fellow minority officer who had risen through a department with few, if any, minority supervisors. Luna said he found Batts always willing to offer guidance.
But Darrin Neely, who has known Batts for 27 years, said he found Batts as chief to be a failure. It's a strong assessment coming from a man who made Batts the godfather of his youngest child years ago. Neely also served as president of the black officers' association and said Batts' rise offered promise that the agency would become more diverse. He now says that Batts turned his back on many of those who helped him get to the top.
"As chief he did some good things, in regards to equipment and deployment of resources and things of that nature," Neely said. "From a personal standpoint, I wouldn't trust him any further than I can see him. He's very articulate, charismatic, looks good on paper, but in my opinion, there's a hidden part of him that people don't get until later."
Neely said the department was woefully lacking in minorities under Batts, and remains so today.
In Long Beach, where the Police Department has not brought in a class of recruits since 2008, there are more than 800 sworn officers. Fewer than 50 of those officers are black, and Neely said only a handful are sergeants or lieutenants. There's never been a sworn African-American female supervisor in the agency.
Batts said he pushed to increase diversity and had a command staff that "looked like a rainbow."
"I was a chief of police for the entire department, and everyone had an equal opportunity to advance," he said. "Nobody will hand something to you — you have to earn it."
Toward the end of his tenure, the city was slapped with a $4.1 million judgment in a civil case brought by three police officers who said they had been punished for blowing the whistle on a group of officers fishing for lobster while on duty. The civil case implicated Batts, who was called to testify about whether he called the officers who complained "malcontents."
One of the plaintiffs, Warren Harris, said they only asked for an apology from Batts. "He was so arrogant," Harris recalls.
High hopes in Oakland
In late 2009, word leaked that Batts was to join Oakland as its police chief. According to Batts, he had been planning an exit from Long Beach and was approached by a recruiter who asked if he had interest in leading the force in Oakland or across the bay in San Francisco. He says he found Oakland "too gritty" and initially declined.
Days later, four officers would be killed in Oakland, the deadliest attack on California law enforcement in 40 years. On March 21, a 26-year-old convicted felon named Lovelle Mixon raped two women at gunpoint, and hours later was stopped by motorcycle officers for a traffic violation. Mixon opened fire without warning, killing Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege.
A manhunt led officers to a home on MacArthur Boulevard, where SWAT officers were ambushed by Mixon, who now had an SKS assault rifle. Sgt. Ervin Romans was killed, and Sgt. Daniel Sakai was struck in the ensuing gunfire and died days later.
Batts attended the officers' funerals, and said he decided he could make a difference in Oakland. Mayor Ron Dellums, a former 14-term congressman and septuagenarian who returned from Washington to become mayor, considered the hire a coup. He was impressed that Batts visited Oakland on his own time to talk to residents and observe police.
"What I felt I was doing when I employed him was to say to a major portion of the community, 'Here is a guy who looks like you, that you can both respect and trust and have confidence in.' He delivered on that," Dellums said. "Everywhere that I went, across all lines, people came up to me and said, 'Thank you for Anthony Batts.'"