Oakland candidates respond to questions about police accountability
The Coalition for Police Accountability sent a series of questions to Oakland mayoral and city council candidates. We appreciate candidates taking time before the election to answer and recognizing the importance of these issues for our city. The questionnaire and responses from each candidate are attached/available at… We will update the responses from any other campaign.
The candidates who responded showed a familiarity with issues of police accountability and independent oversight and strong support for the mission of the Police Commission. Independent community oversight of the Oakland Police Department (OPD) is wildly popular with voters, 83% of whom voted to create the Police Commission in 2016.
The strong support for independent oversight is especially notable among the candidates who are vying for mayor, where it would diminish their ability to directly influence policy and discipline in OPD.
MAYORAL CANDIDATE RESPONDENTS
COUNCIL CANDIDATE RESPONDENTS
District 2: Nikki Fortunato Bas
District 4: Matt Hummel
District 6: Natasha Middleton
POLICE COMMISSION INDEPENDENCE
The city administration has sought to undermine the independence of the Police Commission by advancing a flawed interpretation of Measure LL. This interpretation would extend the power of the City Administrator and City Attorney by denying the Police Commission authority over its own staff. 83% of voters supported an independent commission.
Will you fight for the language of Measure LL and the enabling ordinance to ensure that Police Commission staff are accountable to the Police Commission and not the City Administrator or City Attorney?
All of the candidates said that they would fight for Police Commission staff accountable to the Police Commission and not the City Administrator or City Attorney.
A sampling of comments:
Nikki Fornutato Bass: “YES and I have testified before City Council in support of this position.”
Saied Karamooz: “It is clear that the current administration is keen to destroy the Police Commission’s credibility by denying it the necessary resources to be effective. In fact, I would set up a monthly meeting… to ensure that [the Commission] have the necessary resources to conduct their very difficult and demanding tasks...
The city administration has delayed policing reforms by agreeing to lengthy meet-and-confer proceedings with the police union, even when not required by labor law.
Do you commit to using the full force of your office to ensure that reforms are not unreasonably delayed by ensuring timely completion of meet-and-confer?
If an issue is not subject to meet-and-confer, the city can implement the reform without delay. However, the city routinely agrees to meet-and-confer and has never contested whether an issue is subject to meet-and-confer. The settlement agreement between the city and ACLU/PUEBLO creates a mechanism to resolve disagreements through public arbitration.
Will you commit to taking disputes about what issues are required to go to meet-and-confer to public arbitration rather than automatically conceding and permitting unreasonable delays?
Pam Price: The Mayor has tremendous influence on matters of procedure and direction… You have my commitment to rejecting any tactics that are designed, intended or result in delays.
DISCIPLINE FOR SERIOUS AND REPEATED MISCONDUCT
The city has damaged the public perception of the Oakland Police Department by failing to discipline officers for serious misconduct, such as excessive force, dishonesty, and failure to report significant violations of policy. When faced with serious misconduct, the city has repeatedly decided not to pursue discipline, and when it has pursued discipline it has failed to successfully defend its case in arbitration.
Do you support strengthening the discipline matrix for serious misconduct and strengthening enforcement for serious misconduct?
Current city policy states that when an officer is being disciplined and the penalty determined, prior discipline cannot be considered if it is more than 5 years old.
Will you work to eliminate this 5-year limit for officers who have engaged in repeated, serious misconduct?
Saied: As stated earlier, I would use the 2019 contract negotiation with OPOA as an opportunity to address a number of inadequacies in the current contract, including elimination of the 5-year limit on past serious misconduct.
Cat Brooks: The city's failure to properly discipline those who were involved in the sex trafficking scandal and resulting coverup is illustrative - we must usher in a new era of accountability - and with that be sure to impose proper discipline on those who have engaged in serious misconduct.