Occupy Wall Street protesters raise their hands and chant after they were dispersed by police deploying tear gas at 14th and Broadway Streets in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Darryl Bush)
In the wake of criticism of how the city has handled Oakland's Occupy protests, both the city's mayor and police chief vowed on Monday to reform their crowd management techniques.
"I'm committed to earning the community's trust and respect," said Police Chief Howard Jordan at a news conference.
He said that outside training experts have been invited in to train officers, and by the end of April, every officer should be trained in crowd control procedures. He also said that his department is working more closely with police agencies who have a mutual aid relationship with Oakland to ensure that they understand OPD's policies.
Standing by Jordan's side, Mayor Jean Quan pledged to improve the relationships with the community "and to learn from our experiences. We've been allowing free speech activities every day."
Quan and the chief came under intense criticism in October when police officers used tear gas, bean bags and projectiles to clear an Occupy protest while Quan was out of town. One protester, Scott Olsen, a war veteran, was hospitalized with a fractured skull after being struck by police projectiles. The event caused an international furor over what appeared to be an overzealous crackdown on protesters.
The conference comes at a critical time. The city is expecting the results of two investigations into its handling of Occupy. One is coming from a federal monitor, and the other is from an outside investigator that the city hired to audit its response to Occupy. Both reports are expected to be released in the next few weeks.
"We're building a new police department," Quan said. "This is not going to be the end of the changes."