Oakland Needs a Fully Civilian, Fully Independent, Strong Police Commission

Many of us from across the Oakland political spectrum have worked very hard on implementing a totally civilian, totally independent Police Commission with the power and funding to do it's job.

To be clear: I am not a police hater. None of the people I've worked closely with over two years on the Coalition for Police Accountability steering committee including Rashidah Grinage, hate cops. I'm Treasurer of the Coalition.

We need a structure that's not dependent on any one Mayor or Council to investigate all civilian complaints and have the power to discipline the few bad apple officers who consistently escape discipline under the current system where the City Administrator and indirectly the Mayor already have overall responsibility for policing.

We need a credible review system that engenders residents' trust in our police officers. We'll never be able to afford to hire enough police to compensate for that lack of trust.

The Commission would have the power to hold hearings to review all policies and practices of OPD including evaluating police effectiveness and efficiency. 

A few years ago one of the Federal monitors commented that Oakland could have ended its Federal oversight years ago if Oakland leaders had the political will to control OPD. Every other city under Federal oversight has finished in much less time than Oakland. 

A plan watered down to satisfy the Police Officer's Association is not a credible police review system. All the sky will fall stuff about how a strong police review system will destroy officer morale or hinder effective policing are the same old arguments employed by police unions since the first civilian review board was proposed in the early 1950's on the East Coast. 

The recent failures of OPD to investigate several officers allegedly engaged in relations with a minor (until the Feds made them), remind us that after more than 12 years of Federal oversight, we can't rely on OPD, the City Administrator, or the Mayor to police our police.