OAKLAND -- Less than two months before a federal judge considers taking control of the Oakland Police Department, the court-appointed monitor overseeing a decade-long reform effort has found that the department is regressing and still far from fully implementing reforms.
In a report released Monday, the monitor, Robert Warshaw, blamed police brass for the department's continued struggles, saying they have failed to provide oversight on a range of key issues, including ¿the investigation of misconduct claims and the documentation of the use of force by officers.
"The department finds itself in this state not for lack of equipment or resources or personnel, but for the seeming lack of commitment to the core principles that are at the foundation of an agreement that is now a decade old," Warshaw wrote.
Oakland police were ordered to implement dozens of reforms as part of a 2003 agreement that settled the Riders police corruption case. Since then federal monitors have filed 25 reports documenting the department's reform efforts.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in that case filed a motion earlier this month asking U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson to appoint a receiver with ultimate control over the department, citing its failure to fully implement reforms.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled for Dec. 13.
One of the attorneys, John Burris, said Monday's report strengthens the argument for a federal receiver with the
Oakland officials could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon. The city is still formulating its legal argument against a federal takeover of the department.
Police union President Barry Donelan noted that the area where police regressed was management failure. "It shows once again the lack of leadership there is in this city to get things done," he said.
The Riders case involved four officers accused of roughing up and framing suspects. In settling an ensuing civil rights lawsuit, the city agreed to accept federal monitoring of court-ordered reforms.
Many of the reform tasks involve how the department polices itself: from investigating complaints to overseeing problem officers and ensuring that officers are not racially profiling suspects.
Warshaw found that police are in full compliance with 12 of the remaining 22 tasks -- one less than in recent quarterly reports.
The latest failing concerned management oversight of the system that culls information about officers including complaints. Warshaw faulted department brass for not using data from the system to prevent risk by effectively identifying and dealing with officers with many complaints against them.
"The lack of effective review and repair mechanisms in the managerial oversight of the risk reduction system ... raise issues that are nothing short of fundamental," he wrote. "They suggest the department is currently incapable of identifying deficiencies and correcting them."
Warshaw, a former police chief in Rochester, N.Y., cited several other issues. Some officers are continuing not to activate their lapel cameras, he wrote, and investigators are too quick to challenge the credibility of witnesses filing complaints against the police.
Of particular concern, he wrote, the department's data system is failing to accurately report the reasons why officers stop cars and pedestrians -- making it hard to know if officers are racially profiling suspects.
Monday's report comes less than two weeks after Warshaw ripped the department's handling of officer-involved shooting investigations and last year's Occupy Oakland protests.
Police last week announced that dozens of officers faced discipline for actions taken during those protests.
Burris said he wants the monitor to continue making quarterly reports even if a federal receiver is appointed. The receiver's powers would be up to Judge Henderson.
Burris has said that the receiver should not run the entire department, but should have say over who is in charge. "It seems to me the receiver has to have authority to replace people who are not getting the job done," he said. "That would include the chief and command staff."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.