East Bay News

Oakland mayor says police takeover won't happen

Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is adamant that the citys police department will not be taken over by the federal government. Oakland police cars

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan is adamant that the city's police department will not be taken over by the federal government in spite of a scathing reoprt in which a court-appointed monitor pointed out even more problems for the department including officer involved shootings, a racist incident, and the handling of the occupy protestors.

OPD is in danger of being taken over unless key reforms are met. Quan, however, pushed back, saying that before there can be talk about what hasn't been done, you have to look at the progress that she and the police department has made, "When I became councilmember, there were 55 points the federal judge wanted us to deal with. When I became mayor, there were 22. Now there's only nine."

While the mayor wanted to talk about what has been accomplished, a report by the monitor assigned to oversee the Oakland police department's court ordered reform says the department has a long way to go before it can successfully satisfy the requirements of a settlement agreement and avoid a potential federal takeover.

"Of those nine, we're pretty confident that we'll have most of them under control by the end of the year," Quan said confidently.

But, the mayor may not have that long. The document took aim at the department's efforts to make changes, criticized the ways in which they dealt with occupy demonstrators, and police procedures related to officer involved shootings. And it didn't stop there. The report goes on to cite the discovery of defaced pictures. They are believed to be of District Judge Thelton Henderson, the man in charge of overseeing the reforms, and of Mayor Quan. The depictions were described as racist, insulting and inappropriate.

"Something like racism, you can change the law, you can change the way the institution is supposed to work, but you still have to change people's hearts and you have to change their culture," Quan said.

This all stems from a 2003 misconduct settlement in the arrest of four Oakland police officers known as The Riders. The agreement included payments to multiple plaintiffs, attorneys, and an overhaul of department procedures. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say that cities with fewer resources have moved faster and that a federal takeover may be the only thing left to do, "Our only conclusion is that it's Oakland who is the problem and not the crime and other factors. Which, frankly, other departments have dealt with," civil rights attorney Jim Chanin.

But union officials warn that a federal takeover of the police department may have unintended consequences, "The choices and deployment of the police department could potentially change and they would have no control over policing in their city," said Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.

The next step is a motion to be filed by the plaintiff's attorneys on October 4th, asking that power be taken away from OPD, and put it in the hands of those who can make the court ordered changes happen.

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oakland, OPD, occupy oakland, protest, east bay news
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