Oakland, Ca. On June 21st at a special Oakland City Council meeting the Oakland Council unanimously agreed to place a well-crafted addendum to the existing Measure LL-that set up a police commission and an investigative agency to oversee the reform of the troubled Oakland Police Department-on the November ballot.
The original Measure LL, which 83% of Oakland voters supported in 2016, established the ostensibly most independent police oversight authority in the country. However, there were disputes over its independence within the city administration almost immediately which resulted in hobbling of the initial implementation of the PC including an unwillingness to implement an ordinance to set up an Office of Inspector General that would have provided staffing and audit capability of the police department.
The new measure will 1) establish the Office of Inspector General OIG which will report to the commission not the police chief, 2) allow the commission to hire its own attorneys instead of taking direction from the city attorney’s office, a conflict of interest since it also advises the police department, 3) establish the right of the police commission to make policy in all areas covered by the Negotiated Settlement Aggreement even after the NSA has been completed. And, finally 4) it expands the power of the PC to convene a discipline panel in cases where required body worn camera footage wasn’t included in the investigation.
Excising the Exigency Clause
Most of these were clean-up provisions to end confusion over how much control the city administration should have over citizen accountability measures. But, there was an additional measure proposed that quickly became very controversial; and that was a clause to allow the chief, in an emergency, to suspend all the rules and proceed, for up to fourteen days, using whatever means the department thought necessary.
Given the recent examples of the violation of its own crowd control policies at the June 1st youth demonstration against police killlings, where tear gas and flash bang grenades were used, and the even more egregious violations of the 1st Amedment by federal agents as seen in Portland, many individuals and groups decried any such addition to police powers in Oakland, including the ACLU and the National Lawyers Guild which threatened to sue the city.
Dan Kalb, the primary architect of the original oversight measure [LL], said, “I never wanted that provision in this [measure] anyway.” Councilmember Noel Gallo who worked on the original measure with CM Kalb and was a coauthor along with Loren Taylor of this new initiative, made the motion to place the improved Measure LL (not yet named) on the fall ballot without the “exigent circumstances” clause. Council President Rebecca Kaplan who worked alongside CM Kalb to craft this new measure called for the vote to excise that clause and secure a place on the ballot to strengthen oversight in the City of Oakland and it was unanimous.
CPA thanks the Oakland City Council
The Coalition for Police Accountability had started a petition over the weekend against including the exigency clause-to give the police department more powers-and it had already garnered almost 1500 signatures. CPA thanked CMs Rebecca Kaplan, Dan Kalb, Loren Taylor and Noel Gallo for their months of hardwork and community inclusion on this new initiative.
In a tweet that evening Councilmember Pro Tem Kalb stated, “Thrilled #Oakmtg CityCouncil voted unanimously 2 place our #OakPoliceComm Charter Measure on #Oakland ballot. Reforms include creation of civilian INSPECTOR GENERAL 2 research/audit/advise on effectiveness & compliance and on discipline policies@oakcopoversight@Kaplan4Oakland“