Oakland, CA (July 23, 2020)- Today, The Police Commission Ballot measure resolution that Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb and I, Oakland At-Large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, introduced, which was co-sponsored by Oakland Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Loren Taylor, was unanimously passed by Council. It will now go on the November 3, 2020 Ballot for Oakland voters to ultimately decide.
Oakland is still subject to federal monitoring. The community still needs to be involved to ensure that Oaklanders’ civil rights are protected.
There is a history of injustice and litigation regarding misconduct. In 2003, multiple officers were found guilty of violating the rights of primarily African American residents, planting drugs, framing innocent residents and racial profiling. Since 2003, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has been ordered to follow the Federal Court’s Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA). Court supervision of OPD has been costly and ongoing for years, and is expected to continue until we can demonstrate local independent oversight sufficient to respond to allegations of wrongdoing. (https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/oakland-police-negotiated-settlement-agreement-nsa-reports)
Twitter Link: https://twitter.com/jtu/status/1286380127308267521
In recent years, leaders of the Oakland Police Administration were found to be covering up a sex trafficking scandal in which many officers were using an underage minor, which forced the removal of the Police Chief at the time, three chiefs in a week, and disclosure in the press about false statements that had been made about it.
In 2016, the voters of Oakland, by over 80%, supported Measure LL, which was the creation of the civilian oversight commission of OPD. By this time, the OPD had been under federal monitoring for over a decade and a half. Civilian oversight boards had been successfully created in other cities to help bring accountability to policing and restore community trust in those police departments. In nation wide data, it has been shown that the lack of systems of accountability is associated with higher instances of police misconduct. A well-functioning, independent police commission can help improve relations, save money, and provide a path out of Federal Court control and into community control — and create an improved OPD that is better able to solve and prevent crime, benefitting the entire City. (https://theappeal.org/just-6-percent-of-columbus- police-officers-account-for-half-of-all-force-reports/)
There is a need for this independence of professional staff. We are in the process creating this necessary change with this ballot measure that will now be placed on the November ballot. In the proposed amendments, the OIG will be professionally staffed by a person with the expertise to do the investigative and administrative work that the position demands, and will be an independent of the Police chain of command.
The Inspector General (“OIG”) will review compliance with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, which the City has been subject to since 2003. The OIG reviews allegations of police misconduct to ensure they are thoroughly investigated by an objective third party. It is important to note that any changes to the OIG do not have any fiscal impact because the position is ALREADY in the budget.
It is time to move beyond both misconduct and federal monitoring, toward a system of meaningful local community solutions, with professional staff to independently investigate, and improve community relations. An independent and well- organized civilian police commission is an essential step on the road toward that goal. Today’s vote to strengthen the Police Commission puts the City of Oakland on this important path.
Best wishes and health to you,