Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s “Action Alert” On Proposed Police Commission Reform
Last week’s City Council meeting was suddenly cancelled and now the Council will vote TOMORROW on the proposal by Councilmembers Kaplan and Kalb that would seriously compromise public safety.
Their proposal could allow Oakland’s Police Commission — a group of citizen volunteers — to override critical police operational decisions, divert precious public safety resources and potentially subject the City to more costs and liability.
Currently, Oakland’s Police Commission is the most powerful and independent Police Commission in the country. They have policy-making authority over the issues of highest public concern, including use of force, officer discipline and accountability, racial profiling and racial bias, First Amendment assemblies and the 51 issues currently monitored by the Federal Court.
Kaplan and Kalb’s latest proposal would expand the volunteer Commission’s potential policy-making authority to all matters involving discipline or Constitutional policing which, according to staff analysis, could “lead to the Commission making proposed changes to any manner of policy and procedure without the benefit of decades of training, experience, and expertise in state and federal law, and national best practices. More significantly, if the Department’s policies veer from accepted standards, this can create major training issues … and would create tremendous liability for the City.”
At a time when Oakland must cut $122 million from our budget, this proposal is certain to add costs to Police Commission operations, as well as could subject the City of Oakland to even more financial liability from law suits.
Additionally, we must change the current policy that requires that when the Commission proposes a new policy that the police department opposes, the City Council may vote to accept or reject the proposal HOWEVER, if the Council DOES NOTHING — the Commission’s proposal becomes the law after 120 days.
This denies the public the opportunity to weigh in with their elected representatives when our public safety professionals have legitimate concerns.
Please tell the Council that:
The Police Commission’s policy-making authority and focus should remain over the critical areas where it is today, and
When Police Department professionals raise legitimate concerns about a new proposed policy by the volunteer Commission, the Commission’s proposal cannot become the law simply because the City Council takes no action.
Please call (510) 238-700[1-8] corresponding with the District number (e.g, 238-7001 for District 1 CM Kalb) or email all Councilmembers and their staff at [email protected] with this urgent message. You may also speak up at tomorrow’s City Council meeting at 1:30pm (instructions below).