Judge Thelton Henderson
By Post Staff
Federal Judge Thelton Henderson gave final approval this week to a settlement between civil rights attorneys and the City of Oakland, granting a court-appointed Compliance Director wide authority to transform the Oakland Police Department.
The city and police will remain involved in implementing the changes. But the compliance director has the authority to act unilaterally when the city and the police department are incapable of making the reforms.
The settlement was reached on Dec. 5 between the city and attorney John Burris and Jim Chanin, attorneys who have been involved in the case since 2003 when a civil rights lawsuit was filed in the infamous Riders case, in which police officers were accused of beating residents and planting evidence.
The agreement was reached with the direct involvement of Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins, who held a series of in-person and telephone conferences prior to the final settlement.
According to the agreement approved by Henderson on Wednesday, the city and police must make sure problem officers are quickly identified and that they “ are provided the requisite assistance at the earliest possible stage.”
OPD must ensure allegations made by citizens against OPD are not “disposed as ‘unfounded’ or ‘not sustained’ when evidence exists to support that the alleged conduct did occur.”
OPD must reduce the number of “incidents involving the unjustified use of force, including those involving the drawing and pointing of a firearm at a person or an officer-involved shooting”; incidents of “racial profiling and bias-based policing”; and “high-speed pursuits.”
The Compliance Director has the authority to spend city funds, up to $250,000 per item, and to change OPD policies relating to personnel decisions, promotions and misconduct cases.
The director has the power to discipline and demote officers holding the rank of deputy chief and assistant chief and also to remove the chief of police.
The compliance director also has authority over the city administrator in police related matters.
A copy of Henderson’s ruling is available at www.scribd.com/doc/116620647/Judge-Thelton-Henderson-December-12-2012-approval-of-Oakland-Police-Department-Riders-settlement