Thursday, November 30, 2006

Violent Crime in Oakland Up, Arrests Way Down

By Will Harper
Thu, Nov 30, 2006 at 3:25 PM

Over the last five years, violent crime in Oakland has risen 45 percent, but arrests are plummeting, KTVU's Priya David says in a special report . David says that stats show that in the late nineties Oakland police averaged more than 35,000 arrests a year. This year, however, the department is on track to make less than 20,000 arrests. Why? A lot of cops blame the court-approved Riders settlement, also known as the consent decree, that they say discourages police from doing anything that might spark an internal affairs complaint. Although, the TV report notes, the short-staffed department is down 100 cops. Follow the jump to see what a civil rights lawyer involved in the Riders case has to say about the KTVU story.

Under the consent decree, which is set to expire in 2008, the department has to investigate every citizen complaint now, the report says. Police chief Wayne Tucker told David that out of 170 internal affairs investigations, only four officers were disciplined, suggesting the department is spending too much time on bogus complaints.

Civil rights lawyer Jim Chanin, who represented several people who sued the city over alleged misdeeds by the Riders, described the KTVU story as "a Fox hatchet job." (Actually, KTVU is owned by Cox Communications even though the station is a Fox affiliate.) Chanin says David interviewed him off-camera, but didn't include any of his points such as the fact that violent crime is up in big cities across America. "To say that [crime is up] because we have a consent decree in Oakland is ridiculous."

By the by, Chanin says he hopes to negotiate an extension to the consent decree with the city. A hearing is scheduled in federal court on Dec. 14.

For some unclear reason David interviews Sheriff Charlie Plummer for the story. Plummer polices the county, not the city of Oakland.

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