Expect a Long Night at Lame Duck Oakland City Council

The Coalition that brought you Measure LL, independent oversight of the Oakland Police Department, is asking you to attend the last city council meeting of the year this Tuesday night, December 11th. 

The outgoing council is trying to slip policies through opposed by the Police Commission, the Privacy Commission and various other constituencies.

Statement by the Coalition for Police Accountability

Across the US, lame-duck politicians are trying to use their waning power to hobble newly elected officials. It’s not just happening in North Carolina, Wisconsin, or Michigan.

Oakland’s mayor and city council are maneuvering to hamstring incoming council members and thwart the 83% of voters who created an independent Police Commission to strengthen police accountability.

Rather than allowing newly elected city council members to have a voice on the contract that will run beyond their entire terms, Councilmembers Annie Campbell-Washington, Abel Guillen, Lynette McElhaney, Dan Kalb, Noel Gallo, and Larry Reid voted to rubber stamp the premature 5-year police contract, refusing to give even one vote to Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan’s effort to move the issue off of the “consent calendar” so that a full staff report could be heard followed by public comment. The second vote will be on December 11th.

This shady maneuver, complete with rushed, secretive negotiations of a contract that is not due for seven months, also rejected the Police Commission’s request for input on issues which affect police accountability.

Fifteen years of federal oversight of OPD costing the city millions of dollars will not end without meaningful reform, transparency and independent oversight. Only last month, the federal judge found that OPD was backsliding on three issues which he had considered remedied. Every time the city administration undermines efforts at police accountability, the end of federal oversight of OPD slips further away.

In order to address alarming racial disparities and improve policing outcomes, in 2016 the federal overseer recommended OPD end its practice of arbitrarily stopping drivers who are on parole or probation and instead make stops for actual driving infractions or suspicious behavior.

After two years of no action, the Police Commission incorporated the recommendations into a newly proposed policy. Yet at the December 5th City Council’s Public Safety Committee meeting,  Councilmembers Larry Reid, Noel Gallo, and Abel Guillen heard only from OPD, refusing a report from the Police Commission chair who was forced to speak for two minutes under public comment, before passing OPD’s status-quo proposal unanimously.

There is almost nothing that 83% of voters can agree on. But that’s how desperate for police reform Oakland was when voting for an independent Police Commission. Yet, for the year of the commission’s existence, the city administration has repeatedly sought to deny resources and undermine the independence of the commission. Last month, voters again showed their support when every open city council seat was won by candidates committed to supporting the police commission and police accountability.

On December 11, the old city council has an opportunity to respect the will of Oakland voters and postpone both votes to enable the new council to fulfill the voter’s mandates.

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