Oakland and Plaintiffs Settle Receivership Issue in Riders Case

Oaklanders who follow MOBN!’s posts know that Federal Judge Thelton Henderson  had a hearing scheduled  next week on the question of whether the Oakland Police Department should be placed in receivership.  Yesterday the plaintiffs and the city jointly filed a proposed settlement of the plaintiffs’ receivership motion.   The proposed settlement is available here.

More information about the case of Delphine Allen et al. v. City of Oakland (“the Riders Case”) and the Consent Judgment (the “negotiated settlement agreement,” or “NSA”) are available herehere, here and  here.  Discussions about what the settlement means for Oakland, who won and who lost, will occur in the days to come.  But today, we will briefly summarize what the parties agreed to and what the Court will order if Judge Henderson agrees with them.

The settlement takes the form of an Order to be submitted to Judge Henderson for his signature.  The Order does not provide for the appointment of a “Receiver.”  No police department in the history of the United States has been placed in Federal receivership, and the stigma related to such an appointment would be significant.  But is there any real difference between what the City and plaintiffs agreed to, or is this a difference in name only?  Time will tell.

Instead, of a receiver, the proposed Order provides for the appointment of a “Compliance Director.”  The Compliance Director will be an agent of the Court, will be on site at the City full time (unlike the monitor, who flies in quarterly) and is given a variety of responsibilities and power related to ensuring Oakland’s compliance with the NSA.  The parties are directed to meet and confer in an attempt to agree on a Compliance Director, and if they can’t, they each nominate a candidate and Judge Henderson chooses.

So what would the Compliance Director do?  He or she would “engage in a collaborative, solution-oriented process with the Mayor, City Administrator, Chief of Police and Plaintiffs to achieve compliance.”  In consultation with everybody involved, the Director is to develop a “Remedial Action Plan” to bring the City into compliance by December 2013 to the extent feasible, including a “proposed budget that is agreed on by the Compliance Director, Mayor, City Administrator, and Chief of Police.”

In addition, the Compliance Director would consult “with subject matter experts and stakeholders, including Plaintiffs, the Mayor, City Administrator, Chief of Police, the OPOA,” and the monitor. The Director would also set benchmarks for areas where the monitor and plaintiffs have contended there is chronic non-compliance:  racial profiling and racially biased policing, pointing firearms at minorities, citizen complaints, use of force incidents, officer-involved shootings, and high speed chases.  The Compliance Director would then report to the Court on the City’s compliance with these benchmarks.

The requirement that the Compliance Director consult with “stakeholders” should not be ignored.  Who has a greater stake than the residents and business of Oakland, those who are hoping for a City where it is safe to live, to work and to conduct business?  Will this provision provide an opening to inject the public’s interest in safety into the compliance discussions?  Certainly it should.

There are a variety of other reporting and focus requirements for the Compliance Director. And the proposal resolves two of the big issues that were in the public eye in recent weeks, relating to the Director’s jurisdiction over police union contract issues, and the OPD’s command staff.

As to the OPOA contract, the Compliance Director will have no jurisdiction to rescind or change any contract provision between the City and the OPOA, or to change working conditions, salary, hours, benefits, holidays, days off, etc.

Regarding command staff, the Compliance Director will have the jurisdiction to discipline or terminate the Chief of Police, Deputy Chief or Assistant Chief.  Command staff can appeal such actions to the Federal Judge, who will hold an expedited hearing.

Finally, the Compliance Director has the City Administrator’s power to spend money without Council action.  This means that the Director could spend up to $250,000 as a single expenditure without approval by anyone.  Larger expenditures   require City Council action as provided for by the City Charter.

None of this is binding until Judge Henderson signs on, but given his efforts to get the parties to negotiate, it seems likely that he will do so.  What does it all mean?  That’s a subject for discussions in the days ahead, and, more significantly, determination by both sides and the Compliance Director once appointed.

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 12 Comments

  1. JoJo

    I understand that Jane Brunner is looking for a new government job.

  2. Our hope is that this semi-czar will see fit to listen to the royal subjects. I did not see “citizens” as a group that would be empowered to give input to the semiczar. I would posit that there are institutional/political reasons that the actual folks who live i the flats, are often excluded for the policy conversations. I have a theory that it is because our communities are actually socially conservative, and that is verifiable truth. It is also why “Occupy” never really got any traction past Fruitvale. Imagine “hipsters” at 85th and E14. You can’t, can you? Neither can we, and we like it that way.

  3. An important element that differs from receivership is that the Compliance Officer must develop a budget and that budget must remain within the confines of the Council-approved OPD budget. This is a big deal as a Receiver would have unlimited spending authority without regard to the City’s budget.

    1. Agreed. I also think this person should delegate some authority to the CPRB, but in conjunction with OPOA. Of that was done, it would eviscerate some potential coflicts. We like the concept of setting things up politically so that there are checks and balances. It goes with our affection for the Consitution. 😉

      LOL, everyone knows it’s Kevin. And I am honored to help provide input, and I am blessed to kind of speak VERY unofficially, for certain stakeholders.

    2. Charles

      “The Compliance Officer must develop a budget … within the confines of the Council-approved OPD budget.”

      In other words, he takes police off the street so he can fund internal affairs hearings and new compliance requirements?

      1. JoJo

        Right, if the Compliance Director is a city hall crony and the appointment goes to Quan’s and the Council’s selection. But Burris et al and the Judge will probably prefer someone who knows something about police reform and who can be relied on to actually do something rather than continue to kick the NSA can down the road. Someone like a former police chief who has something between his ears. Like Tony Batts.

  4. Len Raphael

    Has any US police department ever been forced by a Federal judge to take a Compliance Director? eg. Birmingham Alabama in the early 60’s? or Newburg, NY last year when the FBI ran their police department for several months because of crime rates that were only somewhat higher than ours

  5. JoJo

    “I think it is fair to say that the mayor has lost control of the police department,” said Frank Zimring, a criminal justice professor at the U.C. Berkeley law school.

    From today’s Oakland Tribune. ‘Nuff said.

    1. LOL – she never had control because her politics prevent her from seeing the proper role of the police. They are NOT a warm fuzzy social service agency, and they are not “state-sanctioned oppressors of men.” They are simply “the PoPo” – and they need to be worked with out of a basic understanding of what they *can* do in our world, and what they *can’t* do in our world.

      THEY are not the reason for the violence, it is our communities, and our economy, and sadly, our own city hall.

  6. And as everyone should know by now. I *live* in the deepest part of East Oakland (literally). And I have support from the community here. Just like OPD gets tossed around like a political football in policy arguments, well – so do me and my neighbors. Few listen to us. Folks need to listen to our local community leaders, and in particular our opinion leaders from our churches and community clubs. i.e. – me and my friends. . . 😉

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