Auditor: OPD Has Made "Slight Improvement" in Reform

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Jodi Hernandez
    FILE ART - Police stay on watch in Oakland, but say the May Day activities in 2012 were largely peaceful.

    An independent monitor says the Oakland Police Department is  making a "slight improvement" in meeting reforms that were mandated in the  settlement of a police brutality lawsuit a decade ago.

    In his 13th quarterly report filed with U.S. District Court Judge  Thelton Henderson, who approved the settlement in 2003, monitor Robert  Warshaw said the department has made "a slight increase" in its compliance  efforts during the last three months of 2012.

    However, Warshaw said the city of Oakland and its Police  Department have "stifled and sidetracked" the court's reform efforts "for far  too long" and he's still dismayed by what he described as the department's  "stagnation in its progress toward effective, just and constitutional  policing."

    The lawsuit settlement required Oakland police to implement 51  reforms in a variety of areas, including improved investigation of citizen  complaints, better training of officers and increased field supervision.

    The slow progress in complying with the mandated reforms prompted  civil rights attorneys John Burris and James Chanin, who represent the  plaintiffs in the case, to seek a federal takeover of the Oakland Police  Department last year and have a federal receiver appointed.

    But because of an agreement reached in December, Oakland has  instead hired an independent, court-appointed compliance director to be in  charge of completing all the reforms.
    That director, Thomas Frazier, who was appointed by Henderson  earlier this year, is expected to file his proposed plan to comply with the  terms of the settlement agreement in Henderson's court on today.

    Frazier has the power to fire Oakland police Chief Howard Jordan  and order city leaders to spend money on improvements in police practices.

    Warshaw indicated that he approves of Frazier having such power,  noting that Frazier "can hold to great account those in the city and (Police)  Department who have the responsibility to institute these reforms."

    Warshaw said he hopes that Frazier will implement all the  court-mandated reforms, "invigorate the police leadership and increase the  accountability of the Police Department to its constituency, the citizens of  Oakland."
    The reforms are the result of the Jan. 22, 2003, settlement of a  lawsuit filed by 119 Oakland citizens who alleged that four officers known as  the "Riders" beat them, made false arrests and planted evidence on them in  2000.

    Three of the officers faced two lengthy trials on multiple  criminal charges stemming from the allegations against them but they  ultimately weren't convicted of any crimes. The fourth officer fled to Mexico  and was never prosecuted.