As the smoke clears in Oakland on the most hideous of police crimes, mass-rape and child exploitation, we see a silent coup occurred in the chaos. It gave us the Oakland Police Commission.
After decades of tireless work by a group of dedicated citizens, 83% of voters came out to create independent, civilian oversight of Oakland’s police. To do this we have changed the very constitution of Oakland, taking authority away from the mayor’s office, giving us, the people of Oakland, the power to fire the police chief. What are the immediate implications of this?
Our current police chief is implicated in the rape of Celeste Guap. Our current police chief has lied to the public. Our current police chief has defended ICE. If the new police commission fulfills the mandate of the 83%, we need to start planning for new leadership. We’ve had enough conspiracy, coverup, and corruption, but we’ve also had enough chaos. We must make changes, and we need to be both transparent and predictable. We see this coming on the horizon. Let’s be prepared. Let’s have the discussion.
The mayor picks the police chief, but the commission can fire them. A responsible pick for police chief respects the will of the people, the power of our new police commission. Whoever can fire a person, that’s the boss. This is an election year, and voters need to know how the mayoral candidates will work with the commission, who they will offer as a chief employee.
We can be proud of many things in Oakland, many achievements. We have spoken loud and clear, 83%, and we have new power to create a new police department. The selection of the next chief may be the most important contribution a mayor can make, to the creation of a new and better Oakland. It must be part of every candidate’s platform. We don’t need surprises. As a mayoral candidate, I am currently in discussion with prospective candidates for police chief, and will reveal my pick soon. I look forward to seeing the choice of other candidates, and we must ask the candidates, who is Oakland’s next police chief?
Jesse Smith is running for Mayor of Oakland, 2018