Following a hearing this week with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and other top city officials, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson issued a court order Wednesday requiring the City of Oakland to reform how it conducts investigations of police misconduct. The judge’s order came in response to the June 21 report of a court investigator that found the city had “severely mishandled” the investigation into allegations that Oakland Police Department had sexually exploited underage teenager Celeste Guap.
“Defendants continue to say many of the right things,” wrote Judge Henderson in the court order. “However…good intentions are not enough. Now, more than ever, is the time for action and not just words.”
Some of the changes the judge is requiring:
- OPD criminal investigators must inform the District Attorney whenever they have a reasonable suspicion that an officer committed a crime;
- OPD´s special victims unit should lead investigations in to alleged police sex crimes, instead of homicide investigators;
- Internal affairs must brief the mayor and the city administrator monthly on major police misconduct cases;
- Internal affairs investigators should notify the Oakland City attorney´s Office early in police misconduct investigations.
The city is required to file a report to the court by Sept. 15 on the implementation of the reforms.
“For any changes not yet fully implemented, the city shall include a timeline for implementation, as well as a list of responsible person who may, if warranted, be subject to contempt proceedings or other sanctions for any missed deadlines,” the court order said.
A follow up hearing will be held on Oct. 2.
For the past 14 years, Judge Henderson has been overseeing police reforms required as part of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement, which settled the lawsuit against the city in the infamous Riders Case, in which officers were alleged to have kidnapped, planted evidence, and beat citizens. After Judge Henderson retires on Aug. 11, the case will be handled by Judge William H. Orrick III.
“When the police sexual misconduct issue first was revealed, Mayor Schaaf tried to divert the public’s attention by announcing her concern over the texting of racial images by some Black officers. She emphasized the race of Black officers’ inappropriately texting rather than pointing out the race of the non-Black officers involved in teenage sextings,” said Post publisher Paul Cobb after Post staff interviewed her.