Thursday, June 23, 2016

Black Oakland Police Officers Slam Schaaf over OPD Texting, Human Trafficking Scandals

By Darwin BondGraham and Ali Winston
Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 11:39 AM

click to enlarge OBOA
  • OBOA
In an open letter released yesterday, the Oakland Black Officers Association accused Mayor Libby Schaaf of unfairly identifying the race of Black police officers who allegedly sent racist text messages.

The BPOA’s letter was in response to comments made by Schaaf at a press conference last Friday in which the mayor revealed an ongoing investigation into “racist” text messages. Schaaf said at the conference that she thought it was relevant to note that the officers under investigation for sending racists texts were African American and also high-ranking in the department.

“Mayor Schaaf’s statement was offensive at best, factually incorrect and not consistent with past releasing of information regarding administrative investigations,” OBOA wrote. The Black officers group also claims that Schaaf’s comments may have violated state laws regarding police personnel records. There are very few Black officers at the command level, and Schaaf’s comments focus attention on them, the group contends.

The OBOA contrasted Schaaf’s remarks about the text message investigation to her response to allegations that Oakland cops committed statutory rape and trafficked a sexually exploited teenager. “In all of the investigations to date, Mayor Schaaf has not seen fit to identify the race of the officers involved,” OBOA’s statement reads.

OBOA is demanding an apology from Schaaf’s office and requesting that all future statements about the ongoing investigations remain race-neutral.

“I am sorry that my intent to be as transparent as possible where we can be, in a case involving allegations of racist behavior had the unintended consequence of making our African American officers feel unfairly singled out,” said Schaaf in a statement issued yesterday. “My comments on June 17, 2016 did not identify the rank or the role within the police department of anyone being looked at as part of this investigation. I am committed to holding every individual who engaged in any wrongdoing fully accountable regardless of their race or gender.”

Some aren't accepting the apology.

“Every hundred times a white officer has been under investigation, she’s never said they’re white,” said Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan. “She voluntarily shared that they’re command staff – how is that OK?”

Schaaf’s decision to call out the cops involved in the texting scandal as black, Kaplan said, “hurts the African American officers.”

On multiple occasions at press conferences and in interviews over the past two weeks, Mayor Schaaf condemned the media for releasing information about the allegations of sexual misconduct of Brendan O’Brien, James Ta’ai, Terryl Smith, Giovanni LoVerde, Rick Orozco and other current and former Oakland police officers. Schaaf claimed that media reports were interfering with city’s own internal investigations.

As the Express revealed yesterday, Schaaf and City Admnistrator Sabrina Landreth have hired a private investigator to attempt to identify whistleblowers within the police department and possibly other city departments.

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