Oakland Police Department placed under court control
December 13, 2012 | 1:02 pm
A federal judge has placed Oakland Police Department reform efforts under his direct control, citing nearly a decade of inadequate attempts to comply with a legal settlement in a case that unmasked systemic police brutality and racial profiling.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Wednesday signed off on an eleventh-hour agreement reached last week between the city and plaintiffs’ attorneys under which he will appoint a full-time “compliance director” with sweeping powers to dictate changes related to the case.
That director will have the ability to order expenditures of up to $250,000 without city approval, revamp police policies pertaining to required reforms, demote personnel or order other staffing changes. With Henderson's approval, the director would even be able to fire Police Chief Howard Jordan if progress to revamp the department stalls.
Plenty of police departments have faced federal consent decrees and mandated reforms, but this marks the first known instance in recent decades in which a judge has stepped in to take over an agency's key decision-making authority when reforms failed, plaintiffs' attorneys said.