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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Seven Days

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Robert Gammon is right about OPD's picking and choosing which information to release on police homicides.

I submitted Public Records Act requests for records concerning the police shootings of Demouria Hogg and Nathanial Wilks, the death of Richard Linyard (who is said to have killed himself by squeezing between two buildings during a police chase), and a "wrong-man" chase by armed plainclothesmen that ended with serious injuries and trauma to three people, including a four-year-od. All requests were denied, frustrating the independent citizens' investigations I and others were working on, because official investigations were pending.

OPD's public relations office told me that the point was to protect the integrity of the investigations. Witness's memories and accounts can be contaminated by what they hear others say happened, a real risk if information already gathered is made public.

However, even before the recent private showing, to selected journalists, of selected portions of some Linyard and Wilks videos "to correct misinformation," OPD has routinely publicized its own narratives of what occurred, complete with photos of suspects' alleged weapons and of the place where Linyard was said to be found. Two days after the Hogg shooting, several media quoted Steve Betz, attorney for the officer who killed him, claiming body-cam video showed the man apparently reaching for a gun. SFGate. com quoted another police-union attorney a day after the Wilks killing, to the effect that videos showed the deceased pointing a gun at police. (Witnesses we interviewed disagreed with this, but the police are not putting out their statements.)

So not only is OPD contaminating its investigation of itself by putting out what exculpates its officers. It is also showing its evidence to the supposed subjects of interest in its investigations and permitting their attorneys to describe it publicly. I don't think I'd get this treatment if I shot someone, claimed self-defense, and the police had a video that captured it all. In the meantime, the public gets nothing until finally attorneys and the media raise a stink, and then we get is still what the dpartment decides they want us to see.

Posted by mpgoldsteincec2 on 09/04/2015 at 10:37 PM

Re: “California's Missing Climate Hawk

The harsh reality is that Earth's atmosphere has no borders - pollution flows freely across all borders - and therefore massive measures in one state make miniscule differences in the world's environment - and, therefore, the environment in CA. The entire United States is responsible for about 16.2% of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. California is responsible for 6.2% of all such U.S. emissions. Therefore, if 100% of CA emissions were abated, the world's emissions would be reduced by 1%. Brown's plan calls for less than half that - 50% renewable energy by 2030. Even if the AB350 (the Clean Energy & Pollution Reduction Act of 2015) plan is totally successful, the world pollution will be reduced by less than one-half of one percent. The growth in global carbon emissions stalled in 2014, according to data from the International Energy Agency. World emissions were unchanged from 2013. Meanwhile, the flagging U.S., European, Russian and Chinese economies have reduced emissions even more since 2014 - so economic woes have already achieved at least the .5% worldwide objective of SB350. The argument could be made that act is no longer as urgently needed - an act which penalizes Californians, the CA economy and an act that if fully successful has almost no effect on the world's pollution. The penalties of slashing gasoline use in cars and trucks by 50% by 2030 is probably a mandate too far compared to its world effect and the probable economic costs to CA citizens, who face higher fuel costs, possible business impacts, and forced investments in complying vehicles. Californians have traditionally done more than their share in reducing carbon emissions, and there is no reason to believe they will not continue to do so of their own volition, unless so harmed by draconian government mandates that quash that spirit of cooperation. Perhaps Jerry Brown has considered this reality, coupled with the political aspects Robert Gammon also points out about his motivations.

Posted by William H. Thompson on 09/03/2015 at 12:41 AM

Re: “California's Missing Climate Hawk

To avoid the Big Oil/Texas gasoline price rip-off, plug your Tesla S, electric car into your household, solar array.

Posted by EarlRichards on 09/02/2015 at 1:07 AM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

OPD follows the implicit and explicit policies regarding transparency which are embedded in the government of which OPD is an offspring.

If Oakland had a transparent city hall, then it might have a chance at a transparent police department.

Until then, not a chance.

Posted by Hobart Johnson on 08/31/2015 at 12:14 PM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Agree with Pamela Drake's comments.
Edward Cervantes, please file a complaint with the Citizens' Police Review Board (238 3159). You can download the complaint form from the City's website (under City Administrator link). Your complaint will be investigated by civilians, not the police, and if your allegations of wrongdoing are sustained, these findings will go into the officers' personnel folder. Maybe they'll think twice before behaving that way again, if it compromises their chance for promotion.

Posted by Rashida Grinage on 08/29/2015 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Over and over and over again, here in Oakland and all across the nation, we see video footage of cops behaving in aggressive, non professional, illegal behaviors that lead to violence, assaults and even murder of the citizens they are sworn to protect and serve. After each event, we see police chiefs and union officials tell us that the cops did nothing wrong and your eyes did not see what you know you saw. It is no different in Oakland. This epidemic has been a problem in black and brown communities for decades and until video technology became available to the masses, nobody believed it. I am old enough to remember that the Black Panthers followed OPD around in the 60's and acted as citizen observers when cops made stops in the neighborhood. Maybe that's what needs to happen again. The bottom line is that the police officers do not understand clearly what their role should be in performing their duties. Many do not come from and do not now live in large cities. They have military backgrounds and inadequate training in sensitivity or how to connect to the people they are supposed to be protecting. The recent trend of the transfer of military weapons and equipment to local police by the federal government only reinforces a military occupation mentality. At the end of the day, they leave the station every day in fear for their lives. That is why the first reaction to any stressful situation is to pull their weapons and shoot. As Dr. Phil would say, police need to first admit that they have a problem before they can take the necessary steps to fix it. The attempt to control the public information, including the police camera tapes illustrates that they are still seriously in denial.

Posted by Gary Patton on 08/27/2015 at 11:08 AM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Some won't be satisfied until there is a police video equivalent of where every single police video created is available for instant selection and play by the public. After all, until the public has access to ALL videos, who is to be the determiner of whether or not police misconduct occurred? Of course, then the next complaint would be that such videos exposing citizens faces violate privacy standards, so video footage of situations like traffic stops would have to be scrubbed of all information that could in any way compromise a citizen's rights to privacy. Of course, a person questioned on the street yet not arrested for a crime would not want to "star" on such videos, nor would bystanders who might be caught by the cameras. Then there are the families and loved ones who might object to the public video depiction of innocent victims of horrendous crimes - or even those who have died or injured in accidents. Imagine the work involved in blurring all such police video information, probably requiring a large technical staff with its cost to do so. Any video camera records everything coming into its purview, so it would behoove that "Police YouTube" channel to also have judges to advise its army of technicians as to what must be blurred. Beyond all that, the question arises when an arrest has been made by police but the accused has not had his or her day in court - advance public exposure of the arrest could influence behavior of a jury. Even police, themselves, have the benefit of due process, so as citizens accused of wrongdoing, they too have the expectation to the same rights. While full disclosure of police actions is an admirable dream, perhaps more thinking about this - rather than raw suspicion and general distrust of law enforcement - is in order. On the other hand, the popularity of shows like "Cops" and the like might indicate that a "Police YouTube" channel with advertising sold could possibly add significant funding to the entire cost of many police forces. If nothing else, the "Police YouTube" channel might demonstrate for all that law enforcement is a tedious career, filled with mundane actions punctuated by moments of great danger when encountering violent criminals or helping save the lives of innocent citizens. Next in line might be bodycams and a "Surgeon YouTube" channel for every operation performed by medical professionals.

Posted by William H. Thompson on 08/27/2015 at 12:48 AM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Police should be monitored at all times. They are in the executive branch of government but too many act like they are the gods of the legislature and judiciary too. They have demonstrated over the years that they can't even be trusted to stop at a stop sign. Yet, during a certain high quota period, a group of officers wrote me a red light ticket knowing I did not actually run the light. If they can be this petty, why should we trust them to tell the truth about the lives and liberty of ordinary citizens? The police in California have lost my trust (and I'm an old white guy).

Posted by Gary Baker on 08/26/2015 at 10:10 PM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Finally! 3 times I've been wrongfully arrested, each increasingly brutal, culminating in opening my front door to OPD guns pointed right at me. "I must have done something?" No. Nothing. I'm not violent nor have I threatened violence. They're wrong. Their cameras would show that I shouldnt have been arrested, and that they certainly had no reason to kick my door in, tackle me in my home, knee me to the ground, or toss me around and into the back of a police car while I cried for them to stop, my HIV medications in my hand because I'd gotten up for a glass of water when they first pounded on my door...and that the very next day, they had no reason to pound on my door again, with (6?...8?...10?...) guns drawn, waiting for me to open my door. I've made 6?...8?..10?...requests for the footage, each denied, with a variety of excuses but most often citing an "ongoing investigation" and "depriving someone of a fair trial." Yeah!!...depriving me of a fair trial.

Posted by Edward Cervantes on 08/26/2015 at 9:12 PM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

I had and still harbor hopes for the reform of this department under Chief Whent. I have not known a better chief since the 80's (I was unaware of who the chiefs were prior to that) but these latest OIS incidents have really shaken my trust.
We still have not heard one word about the killing of Demouria Hogg near Lakeshore. There is absolutely no good reason that these videos are sequestered during investigations that anyone can explain; and the fact that the video of the shooting of Hogg has not been shown to anyone only increases distrust.
I have tried to talk to all my local legislators about overturning Copley or dealing with the police bill of rights (ironic as Americans have generally lost many of the protections of the actual Bill of Rights, as in the 4th Amendment) and been met with blank stares and claims that they knew little about it. We can't call ourselves a progressive state while we have laws prohibiting transparency of police actions.
In Oakland we have a chance to put a Police Oversight Commission on the ballot to be voted on next year. It would not go into effect until federal oversight was ended but we will surely need a body promoting transparency and community engagement when it does. Contact

Posted by Pamela Drake on 08/26/2015 at 10:43 AM

Re: “Keeping Police Misconduct Secret

Of course. That's why it takes several days before a police report is even made public in a "possible" misconduct of a cop. They have to edit it to fit their stories. This is what happens when you let cope investigate cops.

Posted by CB Chalale on 08/26/2015 at 7:37 AM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

Posted by Editor on 08/13/2015 at 1:55 PM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

The Germans after 1933 made the funerals of a slain policeman into an extraordinary grand affair with lots of flags, banners , and that outstretched arm salute.

Posted by Side Unes on 08/13/2015 at 1:41 PM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

Wow A new low Mr. Gammon! Had Donald Trump said what you wrote he would have been excoriated and so should you be.
The fact that the only occupation you cite that is a public servant is a police officer- not a politician, bureaucrat, technician or teacher. For a man in the media complaining about what the media reports on and cries foul when Mr. Gammon's sensibilities are disturbed because of the size of a police officer's funeral is folly- who said the media is fair or that there should or has to be proportionality. From 2011to Aug, 2013 21 children were caught in the crossfire of shootings and killed in Oakland- sure sounds like a war zone to me. cite… and from the looks of it most of the children were children of color. What justifies police firepower is the brutality and firepower of the criminals- from the Black Panther Party bombings to the firepower of Lovelle Mixon demands a response.

At the Black Lives Matter today the chant was "We're ready for war", "No justice, No Peace", calling police officers "pigs." In Oakland the protestors have vandalized wide swaths of legitimate businesses. These are not peaceful events.

Mr. Davidzon advocates for the ability to fire public servants at will- OK I agree.

However I am not without criticism of police. In Oakland there are too few and what ones we have are too highly paid. They clearly have faults (and Mr. Burris has made a career of it.) Mary is correct to point out that Oakland is the top city for crime in CA and top 5 nationally- shouldn't that factor in to your proportionality calculation?

Why is it we name buildings for failed politicians and glorify them?

Posted by Jeff Diver on 08/11/2015 at 3:38 PM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

This comment was removed because it violates our policy against anonymous comments. It will be reposted if the commenter chooses to use his or her real name.

Posted by Editor on 08/10/2015 at 8:10 AM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

noun, plural heroes; for 5 also heros.
a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal:
He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.

a person engaged or experienced in warfare; soldier.
a person who shows or has shown great vigor, courage, or aggressiveness, as in politics or athletics.

Although all work related deaths are tragic, the difference is, Police officers often die while trying to protect others. This officer wasn't killed by an accident, he was murdered. I don't know if the author actually knows the definition of the words "warrior" or "hero".

12 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Robert Murphy on 08/08/2015 at 12:38 AM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

Thank you East Bay Express for publishing this well thought-out and well reasoned piece. Our police officers serve an essential public function, but at the end of the day, it should be looked upon as just another job where standard corporate performance metrics ought to be applied.

The risks of the job are just part of the reality of the job; and as the facts clearly bear, the risks aren't all that unreasonable when considered against the context of other professions and the compensation for each of those professions. Sometimes people die at work, and that's just life.

The data also clearly demonstrates that in order to protect themselves, police officers have set out unreasonable standards for "justified" shootings which amount to comply or die. This is unacceptable, and there is absolutely no reason why the taxpayer cannot reasonably say that if you want the paycheck, you have to assume a higher level of risk as part of the job. Yes, that means you could be killed and you have to accept that risk because minimizing it means you will otherwise kill otherwise innocent people.

Amnesty International has very clearly stated that in no US State do the justifications for police using deadly force meet international norms and standards. In other words, it is an undeniable fact that American police unnecessarily kill civilians in order to protect themselves. This is absolutely unacceptable and has to change.

Yes, the taxpayers absolutely can and must say "if you want this paycheck, you get to accept a higher risk of death". We also must implement standard corporate management performance procedures, including at-will employment and other best practices that ensure the best possible quality of service at the lowest possible cost. This is just a job - and should be treated as such. After all, garbagemen apparently are at a far higher risk of death than police officers!

As a private industry employer, I am allowed to fire people for any reason, including but not limited to the mere fact of waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Yet the taxpayers, collectively, have no such recourse against our public servants. For that matter, the very supervisors who are responsible for managing these public servants do not have that authority. This must change.

At the end of the day, some jobs mean you might be killed (soldiers are certainly sometimes given assignments they're not expected to survive), and that's perfectly okay when the alternative is you're going to kill a disproportionate number of otherwise innocent people. Comply or die is not a reasonable standard for use of force, and is not one that meets international norms and standards for civilized nations. We can and we must do better.

-Vladislav Davidzon
Berkeley, California

9 likes, 17 dislikes
Posted by Vladislav Davidzon on 08/07/2015 at 2:50 PM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

The Washington Post's tally understates the problem. According to The Counted (The Guardian's list of those dead at the hands of police by all means, not just gunshots), this year's victim count is now 683 (…). By the end of the year, somewhere between 1000 and 1100 U.S. residents will have been killed by police.

While the widespread availability of guns is a huge part of the problem, and certainly a contributory factor to the massive number of killings by American police, the legal protections afforded officers exacerbate things. Laws such as the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act make it extremely difficult to investigate and prosecute the out of control 'cowboys with badges' marauding our streets.

12 likes, 22 dislikes
Posted by John Seal on 08/06/2015 at 7:09 AM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

The article is correct in its main points, as is the historical comment made about the origins of urban police forces. We need to separate the issues of the often unnecessary dangers many workers face on the job (and why there is so little attention given to Workers Memorial day every April) from the issue of the what police do in society (mainly protect the state and political economic/racial status quo from disruption by the rest of us). This is why the UAW grad union at UC is petitioning within the labor movement to remove affiliation from police unions nationally.

11 likes, 19 dislikes
Posted by Joe Berry on 08/06/2015 at 6:54 AM

Re: “Cops Are Not 'Warriors'

Gammon's warped logic and leftist desire to control every aspect of humanity seems to give him the impression that he can dictate even the size of one's funeral - specifically "cop" funerals, as he calls them. As laughable as that may be to any but the most naive, his screed is a symptom of his mounting abject failure as a thinker and a writer. Only a narcissistic need for attention or perhaps the failing prospects for the survival of his paper could have prompted Gammon to write such a ridiculous and hurtful commentary.

This article goes beyond Gammon's normal far-left ideology into the realm of things sick and disgusting. While the family and children of police Sergeant Scott Lunger still reel in shock over the loss, Gammon trots out this despicable tirade complaining about the size of Lunger's funeral. Then in a show of his own insecurity, Gammon also invokes the venom of two local pariahs, attorney John Burris and riot-baiting Cat Brooks, neither of whom garners a scintilla of law-abiding citizens' admiration.

We have read the vomit of a writer who is a cop hater at heart and an advocate of the anarchy that disrespect for laws and law enforcement are bringing. His article has no socially redeeming value whatsoever.

44 likes, 26 dislikes
Posted by William H. Thompson on 08/06/2015 at 1:04 AM

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