Make Oakland Better Now!’s Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire was answered by 8 of the ten candidates. All of the completed questionnaires are available for viewing at our web site, here. Since some Oaklanders may want to compare candidate responses to each of the questions, we will be publishing the responses sorted by question here at Oaktalk over the coming days. You’ll find these posts for the first four questions directly below this one. Make Oakland Better Now! and other local organizations have advocated maximizing police effectiveness by civilianizing certain functions. Today, we post the answers to our sixth question, asking candidates what they think about civilianization.
Question 6. Several citizens groups have advocated “civilianizing” police functions that do not require the use of sworn officers, arguing that using civilians for such functions as police misconduct complaint intake, press relations and property crime investigations can substantially cut personnel costs and maximize the availability and effectiveness of sworn officers. Chief Garcon of San Francisco implemented civilianization in Mesa, Arizona and has begun doing so in San Francisco. Do you support civilianization, and if so, for what functions?
Yes. We have already approved the concept of expanding the Community Police Review Board for initial intake of citizen complaints. If we fulfill the Consent Decree we can reduce the number and possibly the rank of some of the positions in Internal Affairs. I particularly am interested in using CSI type personnel for the crime reporting and evidence collection in burglaries and car thefts.
I do support civilianization for two reasons. First, this is a way to further connect the community (these civilians will hopefully be Oakland residents) with our department. Second, as civilians, their labor will be less expensive and will free up our trained officers to deal with more pressing concerns. I believe civilians are capable of doing any of the jobs you mentioned, although property crime investigation and traffic accidents may sometimes require uniform police officers depending upon location and time of day; I would not want to send a civilian investigator into an area known for gang violence without proper backup. This is only common sense.
- police misconduct
- complaint intake
- Front desks
- Phones Permits
The other areas mentioned require professional police training. I will not sell my people short of the best possible law enforcement.
Yes because when people do things for the love of what they are doing, they do a much better job than people who are paid for that job. Not in all cases but in general.
In some cases I believe it might be appropriate to civilianize certain tasks. That would require a careful study to determine which jobs we could be reassign. I’m sure a good policeman will not want to do a task that are not consistent with their training and normal responsibility
Yes, I support civilianizing these types of police functions, so the City of Oakland can provide vital public safety services at a lower cost, and ensure that we are using our police officers in the most effective way possible. I support the above examples of civilianization, and further, I support civilianizing certain roles in evidence processing, clerical functions, and gaining efficiency by management through the use of a “CompStat”-style deployment system. As Mayor I will work with the Police Chief to implement this process of civilianization.
Yes to the civilian jobs and yes to the civilian oversight, but they are two different questions.
The police needs civilian employees to do police work. The back end of investigations (such as fingerprinting, data collections, background research) , community policing, restorative justice, truancy control, substance abuse issues, homelessness, parolee outreach and mental health issues, just to name a few, would all be done well, if not better by a trained civilian. Those civilians should have more appropriate training to their tasks. Social service support will allow the uniformed, armed police officers to focus where they are most effective. Currently they waste a lot of their time.
Civilian oversight of those in uniform is a basic fundamental of American Democracy.
It gives the civilians the guarantee that no-one in uniform is above the law and it gives us collectively the ability to review what our police are doing in a checks-and-balance system.
I not only advocate independent civilian oversight of the police, but I think we need independent oversight of ALL of the city departments. Nobody should be in charge of their own cookie jar. Every staffer, and every outside vendor and contractor should be inspected, reviewed and supervised.
I will propose that we enhance the Auditor’s office to an Audit, Review and Oversight office.
Chief Batts is releasing his strategic plan for OPD. Let’s look carefully at it. It is the appropriate forum to pose these legitimate questions. We hired Chief Batts to manage a badly run department, rife with poor morale and council interference. His leadership should be supported.