With May Day just around the corner, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan Monday unveiled new plans for dealing with large public demonstrations.
Jordan said OPD reform efforts are significant and that they will allow police to handle any actions that result from demonstrations. In addition, the new policies and practices are closely tied to reform efforts currently being mandated by a federal Negotiated Settlement Agreement, he said.
"These changes are a critical component of the ongoing efforts to reform the police department," he said.
Jordan was joined at the press conference by Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana.
Standing in front of a packed media throng, Jordan said he believes his department is ready for any demonstration, large or small. Occupy Oakland, labor demonstrations and other street actions are expected to kick into high gear starting around May 1.
The new approach to crowd management has many layers, Jordan said. For example, smaller police teams will be used to handle problems in crowds and additional investigators will be assigned to deal with use of force incidents and reports. Jordan was tight lipped on specific tactics connected to many reform points, including how Oakland police may deal with nighttime rouge demonstrators.
Since Oct. 25, Oakland police have handled numerous Occupy Oakland events involving more than 60,000 people, Jordan said.
Quan said the ongoing reform efforts are part of an attempt to build a new police department.
"We're trying to change our relationship with the community," she said. "We are trying to really define and build constitutional policing in this city that is meaningful."
Major areas of change includes use of force investigations, use of mutual aid and media training. By the end of April, Jordan said, every police officer will have received additional training in crowd management. All officers also will receive new media training. Additionally, Jordan said the department has tightened its operations in the area of mutual aid.
"We have improved how we track their movement and use of force and have met with them to discuss our crowd management policies," Jordan said.
In the area of community engagement, Jordan said a community advisory working group has been formed to review the department's crowd management police and make recommendations on how to improve it.
The actions of the police department during May Day demonstrations will be watched closely by both the outside investigative team commissioned by the city, as well as federal monitors overseeing NSA compliance.
Federal monitors are expected to release another quarterly report on Oakland police compliance as early as this week. The monitors said in their last communications that they will have a special section devoted to Occupy Oakland.