Wellstone Club Press Advisory
Setting up the Police Commission Requires a Strong Implementation Ordinance
The Wellstone Democratic Renewal Club whose members worked hard to support the passing of Measure LL urge the Oakland City Council to pass an “enabling ordinance” researched and written by the Coalition for Police Accountability when it is discussed by the Public Safety Committee today and the full council in 2 weeks.
The measure for a charter change was passed by 83% of the voters and would be the strongest commission in the country provided the implementation ordinance is clear on the details on how to achieve the independence the voters expect.
There are many details in the Coalition’s version of the ordinance. Here are the 3 most significant differences between the Kalb/Gallo version and the Coalition’s:
Makeup of the Discipline Committee
This 3 person committee of the Commission will be empowered to actually mete out discipline to OPD officers up to and including firing.
In order to prevent even the appearance of mayoral/administrative pressure no more than one of the three mayoral appointees should be on this committee at any given time.
Police Commission Initiated Complaints
In order to react quickly to circumstances and/or high profile incidents, it may be necessary to immediately interview witnesses and examine evidence-waiting for the mayor or the council to weigh in could jeopardize the Commission and the Agency’s investigation. Why limit the Commission from self-initiating complaints as it sees fit?
A criminal background check as part of the appointment process tends to discourage those who pose no danger to the members but would have a chilling effect on community members who have had negative experience with the criminal justice system.
Oakland has many residents whose lives have been impacted by a biased system-sentences based on marijuana possession or small sales, a plea bargaining process that forces guilty pleas with little recourse for a fair defense, and also those who have paid their dues and rehabilitated themselves. Other cities only perform background checks designed to prove the applicant’s identity.
Council Member Gallo has agreed to the Coalition’s version/amendments. We urge longtime Wellstone member CM Kalb to join us.