Tag Archives: Oakland Police Department

New Year, New Police Chief

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

After 7 months and a nationwide search,  Mayor Libby Schaaf announced that Anne Kirkpatrick will be the new Chief of Oakland Police Department. (Read coverage from the East Bay Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and East Bay Express.)

“I think it’s the greatest opportunity in American policing today,” Kirkpatrick said at a press conference. (Watch full video of the event on KTVU or East Bay Times.) Kirkpatrick plans to start in late February.

Kirkpatrick is the former chief of Ellensberg, Federal Way and Spokane, Washington,  having served as chief for five years or more in each (the average tenure for a chief in a major American city is less than 3 years). She most recently worked for the Chicago Police Department, where she was hired in June to oversee police reform efforts. She will also be OPD’s first female chief, although she downplayed that, observing that the qualities of character needed to make a good chief (e.g., integrity, character, decisiveness, etc) are all gender neutral.

Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick

The recruitment process began last summer and involved dozens of input sessions and surveys. Results showed that the community was looking for a candidate with integrity and a strong record of crime reduction, as well a someone who could “lead cultural change.” (Read the full results of Chief of Police Community Survey.)

Kirkpatrick has already promised to be this kind of leader and said she would listen to Oakland’s needs. During the press conference, she emphasized the importance of moving forward and vowed the OPD would continually improve. OPD would learn from recent scandal, she said, and would not “retreat” from NSA compliance.

“Reform is where we have policies, procedures, and we direct behavior. I am more interested in transformation. That’s the change in thinking, that’s the cultural change.”

Among other things, Chief Kirkpatrick stated that early on, she would be meeting with Robert Warshaw, the Court-appointed monitor, to reach agreement on exactly what will constitute compliance with the remaining tasks. Make Oakland Better Now! believes that after years of the monitor’s invoking compliance requirements that are nowhere to be found in the NSA, effectively moving the goal posts, this kind of negotiation will be critical.

Chief Kirkpatrick will be starting on February 27. At her press conference and before, she stated that she will devote much energy to reaching out to all aspects of the community and learning as much as she can about Oakland. She noted that ever since leaving her first police job in Tennessee, she has been an outsider, she has always been successful, and will strive to get Oaklanders to be so happy with her performance that they urgently want her to stay. And as part of her work to reach out, she will be participating in ridealongs with officers throughout the city.

The news of Chief Kirpatrick’s appointment comes less than 24 hours after Mayor Schaaf announced that starting January 9, Venus D. Johnson will become Director of Public Safety, an important position that will lead the effort to “break cycles of violence in Oakland through effective crime prevention coupled with smart and principled policing.”

It’s been a long wait. The new Director of Public Safety and Police Chief come at a crucial time in Oakland’s fight against violent crime. 2016, versus previous years, saw almost no change in violent crime, with murders down just 4%, homicides and injury shooting down only 5%.

The people of Oakland deserve much better. But we are hopeful. Make Oakland Better Now is ready to work, to do everything we can to support Police Chief Kirkpatrick and Director of Public Safety Johnson, two respected and capable leaders. It’s a new year, and the city’s taken a important first step in making our city safer in 2017.

Police Commission Measure: Exactly What Did the Council Just Do?

Last month, the City Council passed a resolution putting a police commission measure on this November’s ballot. (Read recent coverage in the San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Express, and East Bay Times.)

The new commission will differ in a number of important ways from the existing Citizens’ Police Review Board. It will possess subpoena power. The charter provides for mandatory staffing of one investigator for every 100 officers. By a 5-2 vote, it can fire the Police Chief for cause (with “cause” to be defined by enabling legislation). It nominates future chiefs, and the Mayor chooses from the nominated candidates. And it has policy-setting powers to “accept or reject” OPD policies related to use of force, profiling, and First Amendment assemblies. It’s already been called one of the strongest police commissions in the nation.

Like most individuals and organizations involved in this debate, we believe this measure is a terrific step forward, and we will support it. But there’s still much work to be done.

Continue reading

Oakland’s Police Commission: Where We Stand

Oakland City Council will be considering a ballot measure establishing a police commission, civilian inspector general, and Community Police Review Agency at its meeting on Tuesday, July 19 at 5pm.

We posted about this measure on our blog when it was going to the Public Safety Committee last month. (There’s also been plenty of local news coverage from San Francisco Chronicle, East Bay Times, and East Bay Express.)

We’ve reviewed the Police Commission Charter Amendment in full, the most recent revision, and a red-lined revision from the Alameda County Labor Council. Exactly what will go to Council for a vote remains unclear, but here is what we know so far: Continue reading

Public Safety Committee Considers New Police Commission

Last week was very hard for Oakland: Police Chief Sean Whent resigned and was immediately replaced by an Interim Chief Benson Fairow, formerly Deputy Chief of BART Police, and a deeply disturbing scandal — involving a possible cover-up — detailed abuse and misconduct by OPD officers.

And it is in this environment that the Public Safety Committee will meet on Tuesday, June 14 at 4:00 p.m. to debate a new charter amendment establishing a strong police commission and other mechanisms of police oversight. The meeting is at Oakland City Hall, Sgt. Mark Dunakin Hearing Room, First Floor.

The details of the proposal under consideration, introduced by Council Members Dan Kalb and Noel Gallo, are available here and here.

While an alternate measure (read here and here) by Council Members Annie Campbell-Washington, Abel Guillén and Larry Reid is also on the agenda, both Campbell-Washington and Guillén announced on Facebook Sunday afternoon that they would withdraw the proposal.

Make Oakland Better Now! has spent a great deal of time researching this issue. Our analysis is in a rather lengthy and detailed letter to the Public Safety Committee, and we will be presenting our recommendations at Tuesday’s meeting. But here are some of the key points: Continue reading

The Mayor’s Safe Oakland Series Explores “Fair and Just Policing”

Mayor Libby Schaff’s Safe Oakland series has explored tough topics such as community policing and trust-building, and the presentations often address how the city and police department are collaborating with policymakers, academics, and community activists to improve public safety.

The most recent event in the series, “Fair and Just Policing” with Yale Law professor Tracey Meares, continued this important dialogue. Meares, who served on President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, shared insights from recent studies on criminal justice and looked at the intersection between social psychology and law. Continue reading

Answering Your Questions About Ceasefire (Part One)


More than 100 Oaklanders attended Make Oakland Better Now!’s Ceasefire Summit back in January. We had a great group of insider panelists, including Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, Ceasefire Director of Strategy Reygan Harmon, Reverend Damita Davis-Howard, Oakland Human Services Director Sara Bedford, and more.

There was just one downside: We had tons of questions from the audience, and not nearly enough time to answer them all. So after the event, we shared the rest of the questions with our panelists. This week, over the course of three blog posts, we’ll publish all the responses. (Thanks for waiting!)

Today, we’ll focus on the questions directed to the Ceasefire team. Reygan Harmon, OPD Chief Sean Whent and Captain Ersie Joyner jointly agreed on each answer.

 How is your work gender responsive? There seems to be an under-emphasis on girls and women.—Maria Dominguez, PUEBLO
Ceasefire focuses on the individuals shown by data to be most likely to be drivers of gun violence. While there are some women who are involved in violence in some ways, this is fairly rare, and the driving forces are almost always male.

When is Ceasefire planning on targeting North and West Oakland gangs?BBBON (Block by Block Organizing Network)
Ceasefire is not a geographic strategy. It prioritizes the most active violent groups and gangs wherever they are located. For several years, this has been predominantly East Oakland. In the past six months, Ceasefire began focusing as well on the Ghost Town gang in West Oakland. If a North Oakland group or gang became sufficiently active, Ceasefire would focus on that group or gang.

Are county, state and federal law enforcement and prosecutors attending call-ins? How many call-ins in 2015?Oakland Rotary Club
Ceasefire is a partnership, whose strength derives from involving OPD, the community, service providers and other state and local public safety partners, including the State and Federal prosecutors, probation and parole. Representatives from all of these agencies participate in the call-ins. In 2015 there were 4 call-ins. The goal for 2015 is 5 call-ins.

How can Oakland have a say in whether a parolee is released into the city?R.G.
We do not. By law, parolees are released into the County where convicted. Many have family in Oakland who can take them in here. While there is a difficult bureaucratic process for changing the location of release, it is not available to us as a practical matter.

Guns are used in homicides. Why doesn’t Ceasefire help OPD trace and analyze where every gun comes from and how to reduce the flow?G.D.
This question goes beyond Ceasefire. With a recent increased budget allocation, OPD has an enhanced program for gun tracing, involving more analysts, more staff in the crime lab and officers collecting casings from every gunfire incident reported by Shotspotter. In addition, Forensic Logic, OPD’s data analysis partner, is developing an enhanced program that will streamline our capacity to enter all firearm-related data into the tracking system.

How did you calculate 83 homicides? I read somewhere there were 89 in 2015.Anonymous
There were 83 murders, 93 homicides. A homicide is any killing of a human by another human, including justifiable homicides. A murder is a criminal homicide.

Explain in more detail “intelligence-based enforcement,” please.Maxwell Park National Crime Prevention Council
This is “people policing” as opposed to “geographic policing.” In other words, officers will have frequent contact with the most active violent groups and gangs wherever they may be located, rather than focusing on particular geographic areas.

When there are spikes, do you contact clients on both sides? How fast?Oakland Rotary Club
Yes. We will contact victims and friends of victims the same day or the day after, and will reach out with the message that there must be no retaliation. This effort has had a major impact on significantly reducing retaliatory shootings. We also have weekly shooting reviews, after which we promptly redirect OPD resources based on the most recent shootings.

How many of the call-ins result in the attendee refusing services resulting in enforcement, and what does that look like?Anonymous
About 2/3 of the individuals who participate in call-ins sign up for services. Nobody faces enforcement action for refusing services, only for continuing to engage in violence.

What role does Ceasefire play in improving the perceived legitimacy of the police, and is it working?Anonymous
A goal of OPD is to improve police/community relations. We believe that increased focusing on people involved in crime results in more community legitimacy. The improvement probably will occur incrementally, and ultimately needs to be studied, but anecdotally, it seems to be happening.

Of the 83 people murdered last year, what percentage were on Ceasefire’s radar?Anonymous
Answer: The vast majority was involved in groups or gangs tracked by Ceasefire. But because some bystanders were also murder victims, it is hard to answer as to everyone.

How many (or do any) of these men have children? What are the strategies if someone is a father?Anonymous
Yes, many do, and since most of the men are quite young, the children are very young. We have not yet done much work in this area, but we are applying for a grant to provide training for officers on dealing with children of incarcerated individuals.

Does Ceasefire do panels like this with other groups besides MOBN? Like in East/West Oakland with predominantly communities of color?Anonymous
Will you have more summits? Will they be in areas where the crime is happening — East and West Oakland?Anonymous
The Ceasefire team members were guests at a presentation of a community organization. It was presented at the same church used for Call-ins, which has been used as a location because of its neutrality. We are certainly open to making additional presentations at other locations if other groups wish to invite us.

Some of the bad guys don’t want out of the criminal life. Ceasefire call-ins are supposed to be about both service offers and law enforcement threats. Is law enforcement being threatened? Is it being followed up on with joint law enforcement and joint prosecutions?Anonymous
We are not familiar with “threats” to law enforcement connected with Ceasefire. And yes, there is a good partnership with the District Attorney and US Attorney, who assess each case where violent activity continues, determine whether there is a likelihood a successful conviction, and prosecute those cases where a successful outcome is likely.

Is there a natural limit to violence prevention? Boston 25%, Cincinnati 30%, etc.? What should we expect for Oakland’s total reduction?Anonymous
There probably is a limit, but we can’t say what it is and we are not close to it. Under its strategic plan, OPD’s goal is to reduce murders, robberies and aggravated assaults by 30% over the 36 months starting January, 2016.

Tomorrow, we’ll post the answers to questions directed to Oakland’s Human Services Department.

Analysis: Oakland Police Department’s New Strategic Plan

OPD's New Strategic Plan

Oaklanders who attended the Make Oakland Better Now! Ceasefire Summit heard some mention of the Oakland Police Department’s new “Strategic Plan.”  This plan, posted on OPD’s website with no fanfare on December 31, replaces the previous strategic plan, issued by former Police Chief Anthony Batts in 2010—and not heard of again after Chief Batts left the department in 2011.

We’ve spent some time studying the plan, and we see a lot of progress and positive goals.  Continue reading