Make Oakland Better Now! Endorses Measure S1: Amending Powers of Police Commission

S1 is the charter amendment on the November 3, 2020 ballot that will amend Measure LL, the 2016 amendment that created Oakland’s civilian police commission.  Measure LL passed by an incredible 83%, and that 83% included support from Make Oakland Better Now. However, we did not support LL without first doing a great deal of study about what is required for effective police oversight, and we determined that an all-volunteer oversight group would be severely hampered unless there was also a paid, professional Inspector General (for instance, as they have in Los Angeles) because volunteers just don’t have the time or training that a professional IG would have. We strongly advocated that LL should include this IG, but the Oakland City Council felt that was one of the details that could be left to the enabling legislation.  And, after LL was passed, the enabling legislation was passed and it did include the independent Inspector General, reporting to the Police Commission.

 However, the City of Oakland Administration, and the Oakland City Attorney, determined that the Inspector General could not, according to the current city charter, report to the Police Commission but must report to the City Administrator. Since by far the largest group that reports to the City Administrator is the Police Department, and since the City Administrator in fact was for a little over 6 months the interim Police Chief, it was clear that the IG’s reporting to the City Administrator now presented a conflict of interest.  Hence the need for Measure S1.

Measure S1 is described in the opening of this document  

A proposed amendment to Oakland’s City Charter creating an Office of Inspector General to review and report on the Police Department’s and the Community Police Review Agency’s (“CPRA’s”) practices regarding police misconduct, changing the Police Commission’s (“Commission’s”) and CPRA’s powers, duties and staffing, and allowing the Commission and the CPRA to hire their own attorneys independent of the City Attorney. 

S1 also states:

Under this measure, the OIG would also audit the OPD’s compliance with the tasks described in the settlement agreement in Delphine Allen, et al., v. City of Oakland, et al., also known as the Riders case. This audit would address improvements in policing standards, the public’s access to the complaint process, reporting and investigations of police misconduct, training and supervision, and identifying at-risk behaviors by police officers.

This is important, and might indeed result in the ending of Oakland’s federal oversight.

In addition to Make Oakland Better Now!’s endorsement, S1 has received the endorsement of our Congressperson, Barbara Lee, and of the police union, the Oakland Police Officers. Association. According to the SF Chronicle, Barry Donelan, the OPOA president, said “The thinking is that instead of going back and forth about this and that with the commission, let’s give them everything they need . . ..Then there will be no more excuses, and we can get on with the real business of fighting crime and protecting the real people who are affected by it”

Make Oakland Better Now! agrees with that, and endorses S1.

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.

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