Page 4 of 5
But before Brown went to Sacramento, he left a parting gift — the Harnett report. In addition to critiquing the department's investigative shortcomings, Harnett recommended that the agency adopt geographic policing, in which the city would be divided into three to five large districts commanded by captains responsible for crime in their respective areas. Harnett also recommended that the department begin using CompStat, a crime accountability and data tracking system that originated in New York and has spread to cities around the nation.
Tucker deserves credit for instituting geographic policing. After Word had abandoned it at the start of the decade, the department's record for solving crimes began to tumble. Tucker said that with geographic policing and the higher number of cops in the department, he thinks the city will experience a substantial decrease in crime during the second half of next year. "That's when all the new staff will all be trained and on board," he said.
But it's hard to envision crime plummeting, considering that Tucker has dragged his feet with CompStat and has no plans to significantly expand the investigative unit. Moreover, the department has lurched from one scandal to the next under his tenure, from the botched murder investigation of journalist Chauncey Bailey to the recent revelation that officers had lied on search warrant affidavits. And all the while, violent criminals have continued to roam free in Oakland in increasing numbers, offending again and again.
The search warrant scandal, which was revealed by the Oakland Tribune in October, could ultimately lead to about three dozen criminal drug cases being thrown out of court, according to Assistant Public Defender Drew Steckler. At least eight officers have already been suspended. The cops involved are known as "problem-solving officers," and are not part of the investigative team. The officers are under investigation by internal affairs, although top police officials have made excuses for them, maintaining that it was the result of poor "training" and that the officers simply made "misstatements" when they swore under oath that drugs had been tested in the police crime lab when they had not.
As for the Bailey murder investigation, it appeared at first to be a remarkable feat for a police department that has trouble solving crimes. Less than 36 hours after the editor of the Oakland Post and former reporter for the Oakland Tribune was assassinated, homicide investigators had a prime suspect in custody and a confession in hand. Prosecutors quickly filed murder charges against Devaughndre Broussard, a handyman at Your Black Muslim Bakery in North Oakland. Bailey had been investigating the bakery's financial problems when he was killed.
But then the San Francisco Chronicle revealed that the lead homicide investigator in the case, Sergeant Derwin Longmire, was friends with Yusuf Bey IV, the bakery's CEO and the man that Broussard claimed had told him to confess. Then, the Chauncey Bailey Project, a consortium of news organizations dedicated to investigating Bailey's death, revealed that Bey IV had kept the murder weapon in his closet and had stalked Bailey just hours before the killing. In late October, Dellums asked state Attorney General Brown's office to investigate the police department's handling of the case. The agency's own internal affairs division is also looking into it.
But as troubled as the Bailey murder investigation was, the department still recorded it as a success. It was one of 30 homicides the department reported as being solved in 2007 out of 119 total — a dismal 25 percent clearance rate.
The Oakland Police Department employs many excellent officers in its ranks. But for several city leaders, the search warrant scandal and the Bailey affair are just the latest examples of how dysfunctional the department has become under Tucker. City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, who opposed the recent police services tax, stopped short of saying the police chief should be fired. But he made it clear that he believes there's no accountability in the department or from City Hall when arrests nosedived and crime spiked. "It takes political will," he said. "It takes a willingness to make the decisions that need to be made, whether it's the mayor or the chief of police."
A few months ago, there was widespread speculation that Tucker might retire soon to take care of his sick wife. But he said he recently promised Dellums he will stay for one more year. The mayor and the police chief have a strong relationship and there is no indication that Dellums is unhappy with Tucker's performance or holds him responsible for crime being at historically high levels. Moreover, the mayor doesn't have a track record of acting decisively. After all, it's taken him months to replace Edgerly, and he has yet to hire a new director of economic development.
De La Fuente believes that the mayor or the new city administrator — if and when that person is finally brought on board — should conduct a national search for Tucker's eventual replacement. In terms of the chain of command, Jordan would be next in line for Tucker's position, but De La Fuente believes the department needs new blood, an outsider who is not afraid to shake things up. "We need to get a chief of police who can manage this department and reduce crime," he said.
The council president's analysis appears to make sense in light of Jordan's recent actions. The assistant chief has shown that he is jealously protective of the department and may have trouble changing its culture. For example, in late October, he issued a public statement staunchly defending the lead investigator in the Bailey murder, claiming "there is no evidence Longmire interfered in any criminal investigations" involving Bey IV. The statement not only contradicted reporting by both the Chronicle and the Chauncey Bailey Project, but it showed Jordan's bias, considering that both the internal affairs and the state attorney general's investigations into Longmire's actions have not yet been completed.
Seven Days - March 29, 11:57 AM
Seven Days - March 28, 2:21 PM
Seven Days - March 27, 1:16 PM
Seven Days - March 27, 11:33 AM
Seven Days - March 27, 7:46 AM