Earlier this month, we started reviewing the last two years’ monitor reports and assessing the areas where the City has repeatedly been unable to comply. We blogged about these compliance problems here and here. Today we look at five more problem tasks.
Task 34. Vehicle Stops, Field Investigations, and Detentions
This is a documentation task, and the requirement is straightforward: for every vehicle stop, field investigation or detention, the officer must file a “stop report” that says why the stop was made:
1. OPD shall require members to complete a basic report on every vehicle stop, field investigation and every detention. This report shall include, at a minimum:
a. Time, date and location;
b. Identification of the initiating member or employee commencing after the first year of data collection;
c. Reason for stop;
d. Apparent race or ethnicity, and gender of individual(s) stopped;
e. Outcome of stop (arrest, no arrest);
f. Whether a search was conducted, and outcome of search;
g. Offense categories (felony, misdemeanor or infraction).
2. This data shall be entered into a database that can be summarized, searched, queried and reported by personnel authorized by OPD.
3. The development of this policy shall not pre-empt any other pending or future policies and or policy development, including but not limited to “Promoting Cooperative Strategies to Prevent Racial Profiling.”
So every time an officer stops anyone for any reason, he or she has to make a report saying why. Oakland citizens who have watched this process on ride-alongs report that the process can take as long as twenty minutes, often far longer than the stop. This requirement is designed to prevent racial profiling, and it’s impossible to argue with this goal.
For the third quarter of last year (the same quarter covered by the Monitor’s most recent report), the OPD Office of Inspector General audited the department’s performance on this task, and concluded the OPD was in compliance. But the Monitor thought otherwise. The OPD is using an electronic form which includes a field for “Reason for Stop,” and presents choices from which the officer selectes one. Said the Monitor: “none of the options available for officers to select under “5) reason for the stop” clearly elicit or help to articulate an identifiable basis and/or authority for the stop.”
Tasks 40 and 41. Personnel Assessment System
The Personal Assessment System (“PAS”) is a risk management database system that includes all the statistics about the officers: how many arrests, how many sick days, how many complaints whether or not substantiated, etc. It tracks, and flags for investigation officers with excess complaints or excess uses of force, as well as excessive absences and many other potential indicators of problem officers.
This program, or something like it, is absolutely essential for a modern police department, and we do not question its importance. But it is a sophisticated technology requirement, in a city whose approach to technology is thirty or more years out of date.
In the third quarter of this year, the OPD was, remarkably, unable to report how many arrests its officers had made. It is difficult to determine from the report why this is. The monitor states only that it was “because of a problem of multiple counting of arrests when data from Alameda County are used in conjunction with the police data management system.” Because many of the key PAS ratios depend on the number of arrests, there was no way the department could be in compliance with this task. And the monitor expresses skepticism about when compliance will occur:
Our concerns are amplified by the fact that the issue involves arrest data, which is the most commonly used productivity measure in policing. We are dismayed that at this point in the history of the NSA – and in the development of the risk management system in particular – we can neither report that the Department is meeting NSA data-related requirements, nor do we have confidence in the Department’s ability to correct this problem in a timely manner.
Task 45. Consistency of Discipline Policy
Here are the NSA requirement:
On or before October 6, 2003, OPD shall revise and update its disciplinary policy to ensure that discipline is imposed in a fair and consistent manner.
1. The policy shall describe the circumstances in which disciplinary action is appropriate and those in which Division-level corrective action is appropriate.
2. The policy shall establish a centralized system for documenting and tracking all forms of discipline and corrective action, whether imposed centrally or at the Division level.
3. All internal investigations, which result in a sustained finding, shall be submitted to the Discipline Officer for a disciplinary recommendation. The Discipline Officer shall convene a meeting with the Deputy Chief or designee in the affected chain-of-command for a confidential discussion of the misconduct, including the mitigating and aggravating factors and the member/employee’s overall performance.
4. The COP may direct the Discipline Officer to prepare a Discipline Recommendation without convening a Discipline Conference.
As can be seen, the requirement is procedural. Until recently, the monitor would quite correctly find noncompliance because discipline data was not properly being entered into the data base.
The data entry problem has now been fixed, but the City is out of compliance anyway – apparently because the monitor disagrees with some discipline decisions. The compliance level requirement is 95%. When the monitor reviewed 50 cases from the third quarter of 2011, he found three cases where he disagreed with IAD. That means only there were only 47 (or 94%) of the reviewed cases, so the department was deemed out of compliance.
As MOBN! began to dig deeply into the recent reports, our initial reaction (stated in our previous posts) was that the City would never come into compliance, and receivership was inevitable. We’re not longer so sure about that. In our next two posts, we will examine two more matters We will look at how Oakland might achieve full compliance and avoid receivership. And we’ll look at the Los Angeles experience and see what Oakland might learn.