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Who should investigate complaints against Oakland police?
In 2008 alone, the Oakland Police Department has shot ten civilians, six of whom died. In none of those shootings were police charged with crimes or fired for their involvement. In fact, no officer in the Oakland Police Department has been charged with criminal activity or fired for civilian shootings since 2004. Several weeks ago, Capt. Edward I. Poulson, the head of the Oakland Police Department’s Internal Affairs Department, was suspended following allegations that he viciously beat a suspect, who later died, and then demanded that subordinates keep his brutality a secret. In light of these incredible facts, the public understandably has little confidence that the Internal Affairs Department will thoroughly investigate their complaints of police misconduct and bring rogue police officers to justice. The community demands a transparent and efficient civilian-run investigative agency, which will restore public confidence in the investigative process, empower civilians to report police misconduct and help repair the damaged reputation of the Oakland Police Department.
The Citizens’ Police Review Board should receive all civilian complaints. The benefits of civilian oversight are numerous:
1. Creates a credible process of investigating complaints of police misconduct that will increase public trust and confidence. The community is more likely to have faith that investigations are legitimate and objective if civilians, rather than other police officers, investigate allegations against police officers.
2. Creates a more cost-effective oversight agency. The salary of an IAD officer is as much as twice the salary of a CPRB investigator. Adding up the costs of salaries, employee benefits and overhead costs, it would cost the City the same amount of money to employ 20 CPRB staff members as it would cost to employ 8 IAD officers.
3. Provides at least ten additional patrol or detectives to OPD. The OPD can re-assign at least ten of the twenty-eight current IAD officers to either patrol or to detective positions. The OPD desperately needs additional officers to facilitate criminal prosecution.
4. Provides a more effective strategy of risk management by better oversight, saving the City millions of dollars in lawsuits. A civilian-run agency is more likely to recognize and take action against rogue police officers, saving the City money in the long-term from federal and state lawsuits against the Oakland Police Department and individual officers.
A better-funded Civilian Complaint Review Board and a streamlined Internal Affairs Department is a key measure to stopping police brutality in Oakland.
[Citizens’ Police Review Board meeting on 4/23/09: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/04/23/18590987.php]
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD AT THE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE MEETING ON APRIL 28TH AT 5:30 PM – AGENDA ITEM #7. You can fill out a speaker’s card on line and submit it electronically. Our item will probably not be called until 6:15 or even later….