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Oakland City Council Approves Civilianization of Citizen OPD Complaints, 7/7/09: audio
Toward the end of a very long Oakland City Council meeting on July 7th, at ten minutes after midnight to be exact, council members overwhelmingly approved shifting intake of citizen complaints away from the Oakland Police Department Internal Affairs division to the existing Citizen's Police Review Board (CPRB). The Oakland City Council voted 7-1 to direct City Administrator Dan Lindheim to prepare a transition plan and to research funding opportunities by September. The only council dissenter was Larry Reid, who abstained. He also dissented in the previous Public Safety Committee meeting -- his objection being that funding was not yet secured.
Opposition and delaying tactics from OPD and Dan Lindheim seemed to melt away at the council meeting as they barely uttered a peep against it, actually claiming to be for the proposal to civilianize as they have in the past, but this time they proceeded to throw up fewer obstacles than they previously have. Sean Whent, Acting Captain of the OPD Internal Affairs division, seemed resigned to the inevitability of increased civilian oversight as he could not muster any serious roadblocks to achieving the plan. Dan Lindheim, when questioned by councilmember Nancy Nadal about how long it would take to put together a transition plan, muttered about the NSA (Negotiated Settlement Agreement) expiring or being renewed in 2010 as a delaying tactic to implementation, but then he relented and admitted that he could draft a workable transition plan within the next two months.
With the solid support of the Oakland City Council, the only outstanding issue to implementation of the intake plan will be funding at a time when the city of Oakland is facing a deficit in the neighborhood of $80 million. The plan to hire ten new investigators to handle citizen complaints will cost over $1 million in the interim, as the plan is implemented and the CPRB trains new staff and duplicates similar work conducted by OPD IA. It will save the city money over the long term as more expensive sworn OPD IA officers, who have been handling the majority of citizen complaints, are transitioned out of Internal Affairs and civilians assume full control over the intake of citizen complaints against Oakland police officers. The initial funding required, though, might be possible outside of the city's general fund through federal grants now being distributed across the country as part of financial stimulus packages.
Longer term, after funding is secured and the will of the council is implemented to transfer complaint intake to the CPRB, police accountability activists hope to place a measure on the ballot in 2010 to update the city charter and allow the CPRB to assume full control over all steps involved in citizen complaints against Oakland police by granting the board the authority to make determinations on findings and recommend discipline where appropriate.
Below is the complete audio of item #16 on the City Council agenda for July 7th, 2009, including civilianization supporter comments through to the vote by the council.
previous related post:
A Big Step Forward for Civilian Oversight of Police in Oakland, 6/23/09: photos & audio
(Public Safety Committee voted to push proposal to full council)
Oakland Citizens' Police Review Board
People United for a Better Life in Oakland (PUEBLO)