Lack of Progress on Police Reforms is Disappointing, Says Federal Monitor

The Oakland Police Department is slipping in its efforts to make substantive progress on court-ordered reforms, 11 years after the City of Oakland agreed to accept federal oversight of OPD to settle a lawsuit against widespread police abuse, according to a new report produced by the city’s court-appointed monitor.

Of the court-required reforms, OPD is in compliance with 32 and has yet to fully comply with 22, said Independent Monitor Robert Warshaw in a quarterly report released Tuesday.

“The decline in compliance is a disappointment, although we noted improvement in our previous report, we find there should be more positive movement,” he wrote.

Some (tasks) appear to be moving forward – as a result of focused and organized efforts to solve the problems that have been obstacles to progress,” he wrote.

“In other areas, however, the attention has been less systematic; and there are concerns that remain.”

However, Warshaw praised the hard work of Mayor Jean Quan and Interim Police Chief Sean Whent.

“Mayor Quan has been actively engaged in the efforts to bring about reform in the agency – and both she and Interim Chief Whent have been at the forefront of the city’s efforts,” he said

Among the issues raised by Warshaw in his report were the failure of officers in some cases to use their personal lapel video and the inconsistent results of the department’s Force Review Board.

While the police department has been adopting the court-required lapel cameras, in several use of force cases “revealed several serious incidents” where officers “did not have or activate” a video camera, Warshaw said.

In another case, he said that the Force Review Board, a panel of three senior police commanders who review allegations against officers, came to a different conclusion than the department’s Internal Affairs Division during an investigation of an incident in which an officer used a Taser on a person in handcuffs.

Investigators at Internal Affairs found that the officer had properly used his Taser on the suspect, but the Force Review Board found that the officer was “unreasonable and out of compliance with policy,” Warshaw wrote.

“These two very opposite findings in this process are troubling,” because Internal Affairs is responsible for investigating and assessing violations of OPD’s policies, Warshaw wrote

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