Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, Oakland Local file photo
Who can make this stuff up? Hollywood producers who are planning an ABC Studios show based on Oakland, CA's City Hall staff and our Mayor might want to have their first episode be about the Chief of Police, a 23-year veteran of the Oakland Police force, who developed a really effective way to get rid of any dissenting voices or critical thoughts that might land in his inbox--he filtered them all out. As in: they went to the SPAM folder, people. DELETED.
According to a story by SF Gate reporter Matthai Kuruvila, Oakland's commanding police office, Howard Jordan, had his staff create filters that would ensure he never saw email messages that had phrases in the subject line such as "Occupy Oakland," "stop the excessive police force," "respect the press pass," and"police brutality."
But while Jordan enjoyed the absence of irritating emails from concerned and angry citizens, the filters--which Kuruvila says he had added on October 27, 2011--two days after the OPD's disastrous handling of the first large demonstration--were never removed, meaning that as Occupy Oakland's actions dwindled down, Jordan was still not seeing mail with these phrases--including emails from court-appointed monitor Robert Warshaw, who has been monitoring the city's compliance with the Rough Riders' Settlement. This meant, accordion to Kuruvila, that Jordan never saw emails Warshaw sent him entitled "Disciplinary Actions-Occupy Oakland"--a fact that came out during the October 18th court hearing with Federal Judge Thelton Henderson.
As of October 19, 2012, at Henderson's direction, the filters were removed from Chief Jordan's account and all emails with these particular phrases are going through his inbox. It's tempting to wonder though, whether Jordan ever filtered--or has continued to filter out--other emails that might disturb his calm or encourage him to question whether his direction of the department is a plodding version of the same old thing or the transformational leadership that might--and it's a might--keep Oakland's police force from being put into federal receivership.
Hearing about how Jordan spent a year deliberately free of emails from citizens who pay his salary that might make him angry because of their critical tone--emails he regarded as SPAM, it's easy to imagine the officer going to additional lengths to preserve his own special bell jar/echo chamber. Is it the secret truth that Mayor Quans' emails to Jordan go to their own special filter, maybe marked "Read later"? Is it farfetched to imagine that Jordan might still filter out emails that say "The Oakland Police suck," or "I was racially profiled by Oakland officers" or "The police shot my child" ?
Without the sharp ears and eyes of Matthai Kuruvila, who went to and paid attention at the October 18th hearing, citizens of Oakland might not realize that when it came to political protest and dissent, our police chief, public citizen or not, might be someone whose favorite refrain is "I just don't want to know."
Is this really a person who should be setting the example for Oakland Police? And who is the model of what our police department leadership should be?
Share your views in the comments, please.