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Federal oversight of the Oakland Police Department may end soon

OPD Thomas Hawk.jpg
Thomas Hawk
Flickr / Creative Commons
Oakland police in riot gear at a demonstration

U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick is expected to soon issue an order regarding lifting of a federal monitor's oversight of Oakland police.

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong said at a press conference Wednesday that he was optimistic, but that there was more work to do in regards to making progress on more than four dozen reform measures.

The city entered into an agreement for federal oversight following a 2000 complaint by a rookie police officer against the OPD’s gang task force – who dubbed themselves “the Oakland Raiders” – who were accused of beating a suspect.

The ensuing investigation of four officers uncovered more accusations of planting drugs, falsely arresting suspects, and falsifying police reports, leading to formal complaints filed by 119 victims. None of the accused officers were convicted of criminal charges, but all four left OPD. The city ended up paying more than $10 million in civil rights claims to victims.

An independent monitor has overseen the city's completion of the reforms since 2003.

Despite OPD seemingly becoming a model for more progressive policing across the state, a CalMatters analysis of state Department of Justice data earlier this year said OPD sustains complaints against its officers at a higher rate than any other major law enforcement entity – except the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.