Federal oversight authorities call the OPD “deficient in several ways” over its handling of officer-involved shootings and in-custody deaths.
The Oakland Police Department has been under federal oversight since way back in 2003, after a long-ago scandal involving a group of officers who called themselves “The Riders” forced a multimillion-dollar payout to 119 victims of beatings, kidnappings, and the planting of false evidence. Attorneys representing those victims, and the federal regulators who now oversee the department, are both in agreement that the Oakland Police Department is backsliding, according to statement they made to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“The OPD is sliding backwards on multiple fronts,” attorneys John Burris and James Chanin said in a statement to the East Bay Times. “If this negative trend is not reversed in short order, (we) will have no choice but to consider additional measures,” including firing the chief, and yet more increased federal oversight.
The report by Civil Rights lawyers John Burris and Jim Chanin punctuated a bad few weeks for Oakland Police. While activists call for firing Chief Kirkpatrick, talk around City Hall is Mayor Schaaf is sticking with her chief. https://t.co/OQGEUMseTe— David DeBolt (@daviddebolt) March 24, 2019
Of the many ugly incidents discussed, the case SFist readers are most likely to be familiar with is the story of “Celeste Guap,” an underage sex worker routinely exploited by at least a dozen police officers on both sides of the Bay. But in another high-profile case indicating the “reformed” Oakland Police Department hasn’t done much reforming, last year’s shooting of homeless and mentally ill man Josh Pawlik saw Chief Anne Kirkpatrick hand down surprisingly light discipline to the officers. Her light punishments have since been overturned by federal monitor Robert Warshaw, and those officers are now on leave.March 21, 2019
While there have been many calls to fire Chief Kirkpatrick, including Thursday’s seen above, the chief still has the support of Mayor Libby Schaaf. And not everyone at Oakland City Hall is particularly thrilled with Warshaw, who has federal oversight authority.
“He just shows up here, writes his report and moves on,” Councilperson Noel Gallo told the East Bay Times. “We never seem to move ahead. It’s a side job for him to come to Oakland and criticize it.”March 21, 2019
The job of Oakland Police Chief is not unlike being the drummer for Spinal Tap: It’s sort of a cursed position that no one seems to hold for long. Anne Kirkpatrick was hired in 2017, but firing her is within Warshaw’s purview as he makes his quarterly reports to a federal judge.