Scathing. That's how some are describing the findings of an independent investigation into the Oakland Police Department's handling of last fall's Occupy demonstrations.
The much-anticipated "Frazier Report", a review commissioned by Oakland last December, was released Thursday afternoon by the city administrator's office. Independent investigator Thomas Frazier and his team spent months reviewing video and audio recordings from the Oct. 25 "Occupy" protest in which demonstrators were pelted with tear gas and bean bags.
The report confirmed the OPD's response was flawed by inadequate staffing, insufficient planning, lack of understanding of modern crowd management techniques and outdated policies and protocols.
The response to the protest “was caused by a series of cascading events, not a singular problem” and that “years of diminishing resources, increasing workload and failure to keep pace with national current standards and preferred practices led to the cascading elements resulting in the flawed responses...," the report states.
"This is not an easy report to release, but we are committed to confronting the truth and implementing meaningful reforms," said Mayor Jean Quan.
The report cited the three most important of these factors impacting police policies,
procedures, and challenges to be:
- Command Turnover: The Department’s executive leadership team has been unstable for years. Oakland has had four different police chiefs in the past nine years.
- Bench Strength: Past OPD senior leadership has not placed a high value on succession planning, career development, formal training, and post-incident reviews designed to provide departmental members the opportunity to learn from, and to improve from, recent experiences.
- Staffing Cuts: Substantial and cumulative budget cuts and personnel losses have seriously weakened OPD. In 2009, OPD had 830 sworn officers. In 2012, this number had dropped 23 percent to 642 officers.
Councilman Ignacio de la Fuente was critical of the report's findings. He noted that police had a difficult job that night, with a "volatile, unpredictable" protest on their hands.
The report did credit, however, the current administration for "recognizing these deficiencies and making new improvements," the city stated in a release.
Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen was seriously injured in the October demonstration when he was struck in the head by what his attorney claims was a bean bag.
Olsen, who suffered a traumatic brain injury told NBC Bay Area in March he wants those responsible prosecuted.
"I think we should all get justice. I would like to see someone in handcuffs over this because I think a crime has been committed," said Olsen.
Oakland offered several changes it hoped the city council would approve:
- Conduct organizational assessment and systemic review of OPD, including
- development of a training portfolio
- Civilianize the Office of Inspector General and change its reporting from OPD
- to City Administration; OIG to conduct performance audits and spot audits
- Fund second police academy to maintain police staffing levels
- Stabilize funding for the Citizens Police Review Board
- Secure outside investigative services to assist with police investigations
To see Jodi Hernandez's earlier report on when Scott Olsen was injured, click here.
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