Batts' rise through the ranks in Long Beach was quick: he was the youngest person ever promoted to the rank of commander, the youngest deputy chief and, in 2002, the youngest chief in Long Beach's history, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
In Long Beach, a port city of about 460,000 people located 27 miles south of Los Angeles, he "led the department through a pretty tumultuous time, where he had to establish our priorities a bit better, and through some reorganization we were able to accomplish that," said James, of the officers' association.
In Oakland, a city of about 395,000 people, Batts was hired in 2009 by then-mayor Ron Dellums to oversee a force of about 800 officers, which dwindled by 200 during his tenure because of budget cuts, according to news reports. In 2010, Oakland saw 95 homicides, a five-year low that increased the following year along with overall violent crime and property crime.
While there, he pushed a juvenile curfew and "gang injunctions," civil court orders that would have limited the movements of named gang members in a designated "safety zone." Such injunctions are used in several California cities and were upheld by that state's Supreme Court in 1997.
But he often battled the City Council and the new mayor, Jean Quan, who was trying to get rid of Batts before he decided to resign, according to the Bay Citizen news organization. Reports surfaced in January 2011 that he was seeking the top job in San Jose, Calif., and he cited the lack of resources and micromanaging by members of the Oakland City Council.
"No chief wants to be in a position where he or she is being held accountable but doesn't have the power to make a dramatic impact," Batts reportedly said in a news conference after submitting his resignation.
After stepping down, he publicly criticized Quan's crime prevention plans in media interviews, telling the San Francisco Chronicle that a plan to increase policing in 100 city blocks was a "political reaction" that wasn't possible given the department's resources. Attempts to reach Quan and other Oakland officials were unsuccessful.
Barry Donelan, the president of the Oakland Police Foundation, said he did not want to comment on Batts' leadership. "He was here from certain dates … then he left. That's about it," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.