Proposed Settlement Would Appoint Police Czar But Would Spare OPD from Federal Receivership



A proposed settlement agreement between the City of Oakland and civil rights attorneys would keep the Oakland Police Department out of federal receivership. The agreement, however, would require the city to hire a “compliance director,” a sort of police czar, who would have the power to fire or demote Police Chief Howard Jordan and other members of OPD’s command staff — pending final approval by US District Court Judge Thelton Henderson — for failure to live up to the reforms required by OPD’s federal consent decree.

  • Henderson
The proposed settlement was filed today in federal court and requires Henderson’s approval. Henderson has scheduled a hearing for December 13.

Under the settlement, the compliance director would report directly to Judge Henderson and Henderson would have the final say over who would fill the position — although both the city and plaintiffs attorneys Jim Chanin and John Burris would have the opportunity to recommend candidates for the job. The compliance director is to be paid by the city. The agreement also would keep in place the police union’s contract.

The compliance director would be independent from the court monitoring team that will continue to report on OPD’s progress in living up to the reforms mandated in the consent decree. In addition, the compliance director would have the ability to make individual expenditures of city money of up to $250,000 to ensure compliance with the federal reforms. Individual expenditures above that amount must be approved by the city.

The compliance director also is to focus on several specific areas of police misconduct, including racial profiling, pointing weapons at minority suspects without due cause, and officer-involved violence, including shootings.

The settlement gives the city at least until June 1, 2013 to make substantial progress, and if it fails to do so, then Henderson can order OPD into federal receivership.

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