On February 19, Oakland’s court-appointed Monitor and Compliance Director Robert Warshaw issued an addendum to OPD’s Executive Force Review Board’s report on the police killing of Joshua Pawlik. (The full text of the addendum can be found here; other public documents related to this case can be found here.) In this addendum, Mr. Warshaw is highly critical of the Executive Force Review Board’s conclusions, and of Chief Kirkpatrick, leading some in our community to call for Mr. Warshaw to fire Chief Kirkpatrick.
As Compliance Director, Mr. Warshaw has the right to fire the police chief, but we would not only urge that Mr. Warshaw not fire Chief Kirkpatrick. We would also urge the court to appoint a different Compliance Director.
Our reason for not taking action against Chief Kirkpatrick at this time is that the Police Commission, whose job is to hold OPD accountable, has not completed their analysis, and so we do not have a recommendation from them. Mr. Warshaw, and those members of the community calling for Chief Kirpatrick’s firing, are acting as if the Police Commission has no say in this matter, but they certainly do: they can order the discipline of the officers involved, they can order policy changes so that the situation that led to Mr. Pawlik’s death is less likely to occur, they can even ask that the Chief be removed. The main conflict between Mr. Warshaw on one side and the Chief, Executive Force Review Board, and District Attorney on the other relates to what the video of the event shows. Review and evaluation of the video should be a prime basis for the Commission’s decision.
The fact that their analysis and report are so delayed appears to be because of their lack of staff: more investigators are needed, the Independent Inspector General has not been hired, and they need better staff support. But whatever the reason for the delay, they must be respected and their report must be concluded before any action is taken with respect to Chief Kirkpatrick.
Second, our reason for asking that Mr. Warshaw be removed as Compliance Director is that we would not be in this situation if he had been doing the Compliance Director job, as defined by the court order that defined that job and the salary ($250,000 a year) that goes with it. This was to be a full-time job, and the duties of the Compliance Director (outlined in the judge’s court order here) include making, executing, and reporting on:
“Strategies to reduce the number of internal affairs investigations where improper findings are made. This includes strategies to ensure that investigators apply the correct burden of proof, as well as strategies to ensure that complaints are not disposed of as ‘unfounded”’or ‘not sustained’ when sufficient evidence exists to support that the alleged conduct did occur.”
Clearly, Mr. Warshaw himself does not believe he has done that. His failure as Compliance Director might be in part due to the fact that this is not his full-time job; he is also the monitor for the Maricopa County, Arizona, Sherriff’s Department. It is clear that court order calls for a full-time person dedicated to bringing OPD into compliance with the NSA. Mr. Warshaw is not that person, and it is time for him to be replaced.