Oakland Police Department Dodges Federal Receivership -- For Now
Remember when we told you that the Oakland Police Department was on the verge of a federal takeover after its mishandling of internal affairs investigations? Turns out, the cops have dodged that bullet this time.
The OPD is being given one last chance to reform. If it fails, it will become the first in the nation to be handed over to the federal government.
Last week, the city of Oakland proposed a settlement agreement that would keep its police department out of federal receivership. In exchange, the city said it would hire a someone to oversee the ongoing reforms and ensure the changes stick. This compliance director, who has yet to be named, would report directly to U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson.
Henderson has been overseeing the department's struggling journey toward complying with the reforms handed down after the infamous 2000 Riders case, in which four officers were accused of falsifying police reports, planting evidence, and assaulting citizens.
Judge Henderson had scheduled a hearing for today, where he was expected to approve or deny the city's proposed settlement agreement. However, he canceled the hearing yesterday and instead approved the settlement, with a few minor alterations. Both Oakland and the civil rights attorneys who brought the case against the city will have the opportunity to nominate candidates to serve as the new compliance director.
The compliance director will wield unprecedented control over the Oakland Police Department; this person will get to fire Police Chief Howard Jordan if they so choose, as well as other key command staff. In addition, the director could spend up to $250,000 of city money to enact reforms (this amount is for individual purchases; there is no cap on the overall amount the director may spend).
The city of Oakland will have to shell out for the new director's salary, placing additional strain on the already taxed city budget. Within 30 days of being appointed, the compliance director will be required to present a plan of action to reform the department by June of next year. It's a tall order, considering the OPD has had 12 years to make changes.
If the cops have not made significant progress by June, Judge Henderson can order the department into complete federal receivership.
Read the full text of the agreement: