Why Can’t The Oakland Police Department Comply With The Negotiated Settlement Agreement? Part 1

MOBN! members who follow Oakland city news in the media are aware by now that after nine years of Federal Court supervision, the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department are in more trouble than ever.  They were excoriated by Judge Thelton Henderson late last month for continuing failure to make progress in complying with the Consent Judgment (often referred to as the “Negotiated Settlement Agreement,” or “NSA”) that was the key part of the City’s settlement of Delphine Allen, et al. v. City of Oakland, et al., the “Riders” suit.  By February 27, both sides are required to submit a proposed briefing schedule, with the Plaintiff’s brief due no later than August 1, on the subject of whether the Judge should order the department into receivership.  Links to resources on the history of the NSA, the implications of receivership, the monitor’s reports, the arguments of both sides and the Judge’s decision are at the end of this post.  But this boils down to a takeaway conclusion and a huge takeaway question.  The conclusion:  Judge Henderson will almost surely impose a receivership.  And the very big question:  what will this mean for public safety in Oakland?

This is the first in a series of posts in which Make Oakland Better Now! is going to take a deep look at the areas where Oakland cannot seem to comply with the NSA and why it cannot do so.  After that, we will take a look at another jurisdiction – Los Angeles – that transformed itself from a Ramparts scandal-ridden failed department into “the national and international policing standard for activities that range from audits to handling of the mentally ill to many aspects of training to risk assessment of police officers and more,”  and experienced a dramatic reduction in crime as well. And finally, we will look at what it could mean to Oakland and to public safety if the Federal Court places the police department into receivership.

Where Oakland Stands on NSA Compliance

The original NSA, signed by the parties in January, 2003, contained 51 tasks, with various levels of complexity and a range of deadlines, the last of which was September, 2005.  The NSA provided for monitoring for five years, or for two years more “only if the Court determines it is reasonably necessary in order for the Monitor to fulfill his/her duties pursuant to this agreement.”  The five-year monitoring period was extended by two years in 2008.  The NSA expired in 2010, but because the City was still not in compliance, the parties signed, and the Court approved, a two-year Memorandum of Understanding extending monitoring and Court supervision as to the twenty-two tasks for which the City was out of Compliance.  In June of last year, it was clear the City would not be in full compliance by January, 2012, so the parties signed an Amended Memorandum of Understanding extending monitoring as to 13 of the tasks until January, 2014.  At the conclusion of the NSA and its replacement by the first MOU in 2010, the parties jointly selected Robert S. Warshaw of Police Performance Solutions, LLC as the monitor.

The most recent monitoring report – Mr. Warshaw’s eighth – creates a snapshot of only a three month period.  To give us a broader view, Paula Hawthorne and Bruce Nye of MOBN! conducted a meta-study of Mr. Warshaw’s fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth monitoring reports to see what the patterns were and try to determine where the failings occur.  They found that of the twenty-two tasks being monitored for the past two years, there were nine where Oakland had been in compliance for the past five quarters.  There was one (Field Training Program) which the monitor has deferred for the past five quarters.  There were seven tasks for which the compliance situation varied from quarter to quarter (sometimes in compliance, sometimes out of compliance, sometimes partial compliance).  There were five tasks where Oakland was consistently able to achieve only  “partial compliance.”

In the past, the monitor, City and Plaintiffs have negotiated various standards for compliance (e.g., 85%, 90%, yes or no, etc.) that do not actually appear in the NSA. Under these standards, and in the current environment, it seems unlikely Oakland will come into full compliance any time soon.  In our next two posts, we will discuss some of the more problematic areas.

In the meantime, here are some helpful links on the subject of the NSA:

Oakland North’s summary of how we got from the Riders suit to the NSA.

East Bay Express’s article on what receivership might mean.

The Negotiated Settlement Agreement.

Oakland Police Department Reports Page, including all monitor reports.

Judge Henderson’s January, 2012 Order

January, 2012 Joint Status Conference Statement in Delphine Allen v. City of Oakland

Make Oakland Better Now!

OakTalk Here is the blog of Make Oakland Better Now!, an Oakland community grassroots group of a grass-roots group of voters, volunteers, and policy advocates committed to improving the City of Oakland by focusing on public safety, public works, and responsible budgets. Founded in 2003, we’ve researched, lobbied, and successfully campaigned for a number of new, impactful policies, including the city’s Rainy Day Fund, Measure Z and Operation Ceasefire.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. St. Peter

    The first three links all go to the same document which is the text of the NSA. In other words, the Oakland North and Eastbay Express articles are not available.

  2. brucenye

    Thanks St. Peter — I believe the links are fixed.

  3. MRY

    I am curious to know if any other departments are living up to theses reforms? My understanding is that none are? Is it really realistic?

  4. oaktalk

    MRY – Stick around, in a few days we’ll be talking about Los Angeles, where they did comply.

  5. Peter C. Sarna

    Have you ever considered that the NSA process itself is a colossal failure. If the Judge were the CEO of a publically-traded company, he’d be long gone, along with the current monitor? Quan also needs to get off the stage; she knows little about policing. She has become a major hindrance.

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