New Oakland Police Commission being created: 'Formerly incarcerated individuals encouraged to apply'
Here is another great idea from the Golden State. The City of Oakland created a new civilian Police Commission to second-guess cops, and it excludes cops and former cops but solicits ex-cons to serve on the board, which has the power to enforce its decisions, up to and including terminating the chief of police. What could possibly go wrong? Matier and Ross, the San Francisco Chronicle investigative reporting team, report:
Barry Donelan, head of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said recruiting ex-cons to help select the chief and discipline officers for misconduct was "extremely distasteful."
The Police Commission was created via a voter initiative, Measure LL. The question that appeared on the ballot made no mention of ex-offenders or excluding ex-cops (citation omitted):
Shall Oakland's City Charter be amended to establish: (1) a Police Commission of civilian commissioners to oversee the Police Department by reviewing and proposing changes to Department policies and procedures, requiring the Mayor to appoint any new Chief of Police from a list of candidates provided by the Commission, and having the authority to terminate the Chief of Police for cause; and (2) a Community Police Review Agency to investigate complaints of police misconduct and recommend discipline?
Supporters of the new Police Commission argue that the ballot initiative confers popular legitimacy on the ex-cons serving on the P.C.:
Selection panel member Tal Klement, who works as a deputy public defender in San Francisco, said the ballot measure's backers thought it was important to consider ex-cons.
He said encouraging former convicts to apply to oversee the police was in keeping with the spirit of Measure LL, the initiative that created the oversight commission.
"Part of the measure itself said they were looking for people who had experienced police contact, and obviously if you are formally incarcerated, you have experienced police conduct and potential misconduct as well," Klement said.
The nine commission members and two alternates will be selected by the mayor and the eight-member civilian selection panel. At least one of the picks must be a retired judge or lawyer with trial experience in criminal law or police misconduct.
Oakland voters approved Measure LL last November, acting in the wake of a huge sex scandal, in which an underage prostitute claimed she had performed sex acts on more than 30 Oakland cops, leading to firings and worse. Those who seek to hobble police saw their opportunity and took it, capitalizing on voter hostility to the police at the moment and using ballot wording that obscured the worst aspects of their plan.
Now it will become tougher to recruit cops for the Oakland P.D., and the officers on the street will hesitate more often, aware that people hostile to them may sit in judgment.
Hat tip: Michael Geer