Protesters representing the Coalition for Police Accountability and calling for the ouster of Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick got their wish today, as Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf fired her at 10:05 AM PST. “This is something I was going to do last year, but believed I should take a more measured look at the performance of Chief Kirkpatrick,” Mayor Schaaf said. “But, I saw enough to realize a change at the top was in order.”
This Lirpa Sloof development came as a welcome surprise to a number of Oakland City Councilmembers, none who wanted to be quoted until they talked to Mayor Schaaf. But what changed the climate for the Oakland PD? It would seem it was the work of the independent monitor.
According to the City of Oakland, “The Police Performance Solutions Independent Monitoring Team (PPS/IMT), chaired by Chief (Ret.) Robert S. Warsaw, consists of experts in law enforcement, police monitoring, auditing and evaluation, intergovernmental relations, civil rights compliance, constitutional considerations and best practices in contemporary policing. The IMT was hired by the City of Oakland in 2010 to monitor the Memorandum of Understanding related to OPD’s NSA. Click on the IMT Reports button link above to view these monthly reports.”
It was the behind-the-scenes and also public words of Chief Warsaw, who blased Kirkpatrick’s response to the deadly police shooting of 32-year-old Joshua Pawlik, an armed homeless man, last year, that gave rise to change leading to the Mayor firing Kirkpatrick.
When video of the incident surfaced, Warshaw said that it appears that the Oakland Police Internal Affairs Unit didn’t watch the video to see that, indeed, Joshua Pawlik did not pose a threat to officers; they just saw a gun next to a sleeping, but waking up, homeless man, and shot him.
According to KTVU, Warshaw called Kirkpatrick’s evaluation of the shooting “both disappointing and myopic.”
After Warshaw’s criticism of the Oakland Police Chief’s actions, the officers involved (William Berger, Brandon Hraiz, Craig Tanaka, and Sgt. Francisco Negrete) were placed on leave. But the work of Warshaw didn’t stop there.
Warshaw said that the Oakland Police Department was not performing well in at least one of the goals set for reform targets for the department. While the Mayor fired the Chief, the way the powers of the federal monitor are structured, Warshaw could have done it himself.
Now, the search starts for a yet another Oakland Police Chief, in what has to be the toughest job in Oakland.
Stay tuned. And this was an April Fools story, but as always, based on something that could happen – perhaps soon. Maybe next week.