Oakland Police Overseer Calls for Tasers, Sergeants, Training
More training. More tasers. More sergeants. More data.
The Oakland Police Department’s new overseer is proposing reforms that will cost more than $1.8 million in the short term and take years to fully implement, as he acknowledged in a 58-page report filed in federal court on Wednesday.
Among other initiatives, Thomas Frazier, the department’s new compliance director, wants the department to buy more stun guns. “Modern policing requires officers to have a full range of less-than-lethal weapons ready for immediate use if necessary,” he wrote. “In addition to the 63 TASERs OPD intends to buy with Measure Y money, the
department needs approximately 200 additional TASERs to achieve 100% deployment in Patrol.”
He estimated the cost of the 200 Tasers at $220,000. He also called on the department to acquire unspecified “modern crowd control weapons/munitions.”
The report gives the first view of how Frazier will try to make the department comply with a 10-year-old legal settlement stemming from civil rights violations by four officers known as the Riders.
Federal District Judge Thelton Henderson hired Frazier on March 4, giving him authority to fire the police chief if necessary to bring the department into compliance.
John Burris, lead counsel in the class-action police brutality suit against the Riders in the year 2000, said he is “optimistic” about the reforms outlined in the report. “I’m hopeful that it will work,” he said.
Frazier reported that the department has made progress in some areas but is dragging its feet in others. In particular, supervisors have not held patrol officers responsible for misconduct, he found.
One reason is a shortage of commanding officers, he said. He called on the department to hire more sergeants, particularly in the department’s internal affairs division, which is tasked with investigating misconduct.
He is also ordering the department to analyze data on whom it has stopped and why. “I will require OPD to resume the compilation of the required reports immediately,” Frazier wrote.
The issue is a sensitive one; controversy has long swirled around the New York Police Department’s use of “stop and frisk” tactics. Some have credited the tactic with reducing the city’s crime rate and others have criticized it as a form of racial harassment.
Part of the problem with collecting data in Oakland could lie with the department’s information technology, Frazier wrote. He plans to order the department to hire a new technical consultant to come up with better ways of managing such data.
Besides the stop data, the department’s radio system, mobile data terminals and system for evaluating complaints against officers and their use of force all need to be upgraded, Frazier said.
Frazier has a budget of only $250,000 to implement changes in the department, so he called on the city to allocate more money for the reforms he wants.
Here is the report: