OPD by Demond Henderson, file photo
Writing that "this Department finds itself woefully behind its peers around the state and nation," U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson gave significant decision-making powers to the independent monitors charged with overseeing the court-ordered reforms at the Oakland Police Department.
This decision brings Oakland closer to federal takeover.
In his statement, Henderson wrote: " ... the Oakland Police Department is, without a doubt, better off now than when these cases were filed in 2000 and 2001. Also without a doubt, however, much significant work remains if the Department is ever to achieve the promises of the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (“NSA”) reached by the parties in 2003. The Court remains in disbelief that Defendants have yet – nine years later – to achieve what they themselves agreed was doable in no more than five years. Moreover, this is not a case where the end goals were originally out of reach or in any way extraordinary."
He also wrote: "The City makes much of its changed leadership – the Mayor, City Administrator,Chief of Police, and City Attorney – and the Court does not doubt the earnestness of the letters submitted by these individuals. However, as the Court has explained time and time again, words and promises are not enough. Indeed, each time a previous new Mayor or City Administrator or Chief of Police has come on board, the Court was reassured that the individual was strongly committed to reforming the Oakland Police Department, and that a change in administration and leadership was all that was necessary to push the City into full compliance."
This decision by Henderson means that interim Police Chief Howard Jordan has to check in with the independent monitor Robert Warshaw regarding any departmental changes that could affect the consent decree.
What can't Jordan do independently? According to the decree, Jordan no has to get approval from the monitor for disciplinary actions, personnel changes; changing policy or the manual of rules; using tactical initiatives that have a direct bearing on the NSA; and procuring equipment used for compliance with the reforms.
Does this mean the independent monitor is going to be involved in any police planning for the planned Jan. 28 Occupy Oakland Move-In Day? One would think so.
See the document below:January 2012 Henderson-Order