Damning Report of OPD 

Despite the city's claims of reform, the Frazier Report details the Oakland police department's culture of impunity and failure to change.

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Despite the damning report, city officials say proof of change can be seen in policy changes, as well as the smoother police-protester interactions that occurred on May Day. "Policy by its very nature is a document, so you can see if it is changed," said city spokeswoman Karen Boyd. "A tactic you can view in a crowd-control situation, and see if it has been changed."

But many lawyers and community activists who have worked for more than a decade to change OPD say these claims of reform are inadequate. They point to the numerous unfulfilled reforms required by court-appointed monitors stemming back to 2004, many of which are simply revisited in the Frazier Report as if they were new problems.

"Oakland does not have a great history of implementing reforms, considering that it has been nine years since the current crowd-control policy came out of a court settlement, and it's not being properly followed," observed Alan Schlosser, the legal director of the ACLU's Northern California chapter. "We are skeptical that OPD is meaningfully implementing these recommended reforms."

A representative from the Frazier Group was not at the press conference to confirm whether the consulting firm worked with OPD and City Administrator Deanna Santana to address some of the myriad problems cataloged in the report, let alone to say whether any progress was made. "As a corporate policy, we don't comment on our reports once they are released to our client," explained Frazier.

Mayor Jean Quan and Santana also took the occasion of the report's release to announce several big "strategic investments" they say will propel structural changes in OPD. One proposal is to "civilianize" the Office of Inspector General by moving it out of OPD and into the city administrator's office.

While this idea does not appear in the Frazier Report, according to Boyd, shifting the Office of Inspector General to Santana's office is being proposed as a means of addressing the numerous problems with OPD's internal investigations of officer misconduct that are cataloged in the Frazier Report. "There were issues with the investigation process, whether it was objective enough," said Boyd. "A number of findings in the Frazier Report discuss the objectivity and process of the investigations, so having OIG civilianized and moved to the city administrator's office, rather than keeping it in the police department, adds a layer of objectivity." The independent monitor for OPD's federal consent decree also recommended the shift.

Santana was one of the key decision-makers who ordered the raid of the Occupy Oakland camp and approved of police operations on October 25 — a decision that should have been delayed until a better action plan and training had been implemented, according to the Frazier Report. Furthermore, Santana is Chief Jordan's boss, and the police department already falls under her oversight, facts that call into question whether the shift would improve investigations into officer misconduct and crime.

"I don't think it makes sense to have the inspector general reporting to a city administrator who's been so enthusiastic about everything the police do," said Dan Siegel, an attorney and former advisor to Mayor Quan who resigned last fall.

As the Express reported last week, an OPD officer from the Criminal Investigations Division is currently under investigation for allegedly compromising the Scott Olsen case in an unspecified manner.

The OPD's inability to conduct "assertive, thorough, objective and appropriate" criminal or administrative probes into officer misconduct "potentially serve as indicators of departmental ethics and values," states the Frazier Report. The report also strongly suggests that OPD officers engaged in "group reporting," or collaboration, following the evening of October 25 to coordinate their statements regarding uses of force and injuries to demonstrators.

OPD officers interviewed by Frazier Group personnel also spoke of long-standing problems with misconduct investigations: "There is a long time culture of not challenging subject and witness officers," reads one section of the report. "IAD investigators do not want to be the individual who sustains a complaint against a particular member" of OPD.

One senior OPD officer told the Frazier Group's investigators that he had virtually no faith in the department's ability to police itself and punish officers guilty of crime or misconduct: "I have little faith that [Internal Affairs] can get it right and have even less faith that Criminal Investigation Division will do the case right. The CID investigation would be a waste of time. I do not have faith in the IA or CID process."

Chanin believes the lack of documentation of Tango Team's less-than-lethal arsenal, and the doubts raised by the Frazier Report over the veracity of OPD testimony to CID investigators, warrant the scrutiny of outside law enforcement. "The fact that a criminal investigation hasn't resulted in anything indicates the FBI or the Attorney General needs to step in," Chanin said.

Editor's Note: The original version of this story contained an error regarding the year in which the current OPD crowd-control policy was implemented. The correct year was 2004, not 2003. This version has been updated to reflect the correction.

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