In 2003, after being sued civilly in federal court by 119 people who accused four OPD officers known as “The Riders” for civil rights violations, the City of Oakland agreed to 51 terms of reform. The officers were, over four years (1996-2000), allegedly involved in false arrests, planting evidence, excessive use of force, falsification of police reports, and assault and battery. A rookie officer, Keith Batt came forward with the information about the four officers (Frank Vazquez, Clarence Mabanag, Jude Siapno and Matthew Hornung) who were placed on administrative leave, fired, and then prosecuted by the Alameda County District Attorney.
Civil rights attorneys John Burris and James Chanin represented the plaintiffs in a trial which lasted three years. As a result, the city of Oakland paid out $10.9 million, a figure which was less than what could have been awarded had the city not consented to a variety of reforms in a so-called “negotiated settlement agreement” (NSA). Judge Thelton Henderson, who had previously overseen similar cases, approved of the agreement and would oversee the compliance. The tasks were expected to be completed in 5 years (by 2008).
To be “in compliance” means a task has become part of OPD’s “daily practice”. The tasks fall under five categories:
- Management oversight
In 2007, OPD asserted that they were 100% compliant with policy and training tasks, and 27% in police practice tasks. The deadline was extended to 2010. In 2009, the deadline for compliance was extended further to 2012, and the number of outstanding tasks was reduced to 22.
Two independent monitoring teams have been appointed to oversee the department’s compliance. The first team (2003-2010) consisted of four law enforcement and civil right experts: Rachel Burgess, Kelli Evans, Charles Gruber, and Christy Lopez. The second team (2010–) is Police Performance Solutions, led by Robert Warshaw.
Oakland (naively?) agreed to cover all costs associated with the NSA. Although initially budgeted at $2 million in 2003, the estimate swelled to over $15 million by 2007.
In December, 2012, in a last-ditch effort to avoid federal receivership after the multiple deadline extensions, Judge Henderson created a position, paid for by the city, of “compliance director” that would essentially serve as an outside police chief with the discretion to fire the Chief of Police. He allowed the City and the Defendants to each propose a candidate, but declined to choose either proposed candidate. There was a dust-up prior to the announcement of the Compliance Director when Judge Henderson, whose December court order stated he would announce director and their salary at the same time, accused the city of dragging their feet on releasing salary information. On March 4, 2013 Henderson appointed Thomas Frazier of the Frazier Consulting Group and author of the 2012 Frazier Report condemning the police response to Occupy Oakland in October, 2011 to be the first compliance director with a salary of $270,000.
In February, 2014, Frazier was fired and Robert Warshaw was appointed Compliance Director. Learn more here.
Judge Thelton Henderson was assigned as the federal overseer in the case.
He has been accused of being responsible for making sure OPD doesn't come into compliance (the term "moving goal posts" has been used.)
Also, a recent article explained "The police officials [compliance director and monitors] don't speak publicly, and Judge Henderson has issued two court orders declaring their communications with city officials confidential."1
See also Crowd Control Policy page.
Chief Jordan’s undated note regarding compliance (from City of Oakland NSA page):
The Negotiated Settlement Agreement (the Agreement) requires the Oakland Police Department to conduct an in-depth review of its entire operation with the aim of becoming more responsive, effective and accountable.
Ensuring compliance with the provisions of the Agreement is one of my top priorities. Although tremendous progress has been made, we continue to encounter challenges as we work to become fully compliant with the Agreement. We have met—and will continue to meet—each challenge with solutions and a commitment to remain true to the Agreement.
Working collaboratively with the Court, Independent Monitoring Team, Plaintiffs’ Attorneys, employee unions, and other stakeholders, we have adopted new practices that have resulted in a much more accountable Department. We have seen dramatic improvement in the way the Department investigates complaints of misconduct and use of force. Our Personnel Assessment System pinpoints personnel who need intervention or extra supervision. It also identifies and encourages outstanding work.
These improvements will continue. As we enter the final phase of the Agreement, I believe the Department will meet the standards set forth in the Agreement, increasing our status as a premier law enforcement agency.
- Full text of the NSA from the City of Oakland.
- Analysis of the Monitor's 16th Quarterly Report 16th Quarterly Report
- The City of Oakland’s description and history of the NSA. This page includes all of the reports from the first set of monitors in English, Vietnamese, Chinese and Spanish and the reports from the second set of monitors in English, Spanish and Chinese. It also includes the semi-annual reports from the city and OPD that were filed with the monitors as well as 2010 and 2011 reports from the Police Department's Office of Inspector General.
- Court order regarding compliance director.
- City of Oakland brochure on the NSA.
- Wikipedia (Allen v City of Oakland)
Reports filed with the United States District Court, Northern District of California: Allen v. City of Oakland, Case No. C00-4599
Santana's report opposing receivership from 2012
- Oakland North: “Twelve years after the Riders, a long legal process is reaching its final stage.”
- SFGate: “Ex-rookie cop tells of police abuse / Attacks and filing of false reports”
- Overrun by Crime, Oakland Looks to Make Allies in Community - New York Times, 3/10/13
- Artz, Matthew. "For Oakland City Administrator Deanna Santana, 'honeymoon is over'." Oakland Tribune: Aug 9, 2013.