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Victory for Civilian Oversight of Citizen Complaints Against Oakland Police 4/28/09: audio
A big victory was won tonight for those in favor of civilian police review in Oakland. After last minute police resistance, the City Council Public Safety Committee agreed that it would be in the best interest of Oakland to have civilians rather than the Oakland Police Internal Affairs Department overseeing all citizen complaints against the OPD.
Despite the fact that the Oakland police department had previously worked with the Mayor's Task Force on Police Issues in coming up with the recommendation to move all citizen complaints from Internal Affairs to the Citizens' Police Review Board, Oakland police decided to largely oppose the proposal at tonight's hearing. For some unknown reason, Oakland police were scheduled to speak in opposition to the proposal at the Public Safety hearing before the actual proposal was presented.
After Oakland police and Task Force members spoke -- and after nearly an hour of public comment in favor of fully "civilianizing" citizen complaints -- the Oakland City Council Public Safety Committee more or less moved past police objections and issued a directive for all participants from the Task Force, including police, to return to the next committee hearing on May 12th with a specific consensus agreement on how to proceed with implementing the proposal to hire at least ten new investigators for the Citizens' Police Review Board as they assume responsibility for intake and investigation of all citizen complaints against OPD.
Assuming Oakland police cooperate with the directive, the new consensus should move from the committee to the full Oakland City Council as early as next month. Implementation of the plan would represent a dramatic step forward for increasing police accountability and transparency in Oakland.
The audio here includes only the part of the hearing dealing with the proposal for the Citizen's Police Review Board. Other items on the committee hearing agenda were discussed before and after the civilian oversight proposal.
Oakland Police Lt. Shannon speaks first, on behalf of the Oakland police department, in order to stifle and inhibit movement toward full civilian police review.
Eric Cisneros and Rashida Grinage of Mayor Dellum's Police Issues Task Force present the actual proposal about 12 1/2 minutes into the audio.
Public comment -- all 40 speakers in support of the proposal -- begins about 28 minutes into the audio.
Council members on the Public Safety Committee begin to speak and ask questions about an hour and 26 minutes into the audio.
For some background on the proposal, see:
photos of several speakers will be forthcoming