The Oakland Police Department
concluded in a report released today that "further discipline is not warranted" for the police officials who mishandled the internal investigations of criminal and ethical misconduct by Oakland cops in the Celeste Guap sex exploitation scandal.
The OPD report followed a highly critical one issued earlier this year
commissioned by a federal judge.
According to the new OPD report, rather than being demoted or fired for their mistakes, senior police officials who prematurely shut down the internal criminal and administrative investigations were made to engage in "individual reflection" and a "roundtable" in which they discussed with Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, and with each other, how they bungled the cases.
Attorney Jim Chanin told the Express
that the city and OPD appear to have made a good faith effort to figure out what structurally went wrong inside OPD. But Chanin was also critical of the city's lack of action to discipline the officers who mishandled the cases.
"I don’t think that they treated the command staff the same way that they treated the officers," he said, referring to 12 lower-ranking Oakland cops who were disciplined for misconduct in the Guap case last year. "I don’t think they would have had a roundtable if it was anyone other than the command staff. If you’re a low-ranking officer, you should get treated the same as a high-ranking officer.
"I have trouble seeing an even-handed standard," said Chanin.
Chanin also said he's troubled by the city's apparent assertion that because the officers who mishandled the cases may not have been intentionally doing so, they won't be punished.
"If there was intentional conduct, it should be punished by termination," said Chanin. "But from my understanding, performance of duty involves more than just intentionally blowing deadlines or engaging in misconduct, it also involves failure to do a good enough job under the circumstances."
Rather than discipline, the department's report states that problems are being fixed through changes in policies and procedures.
"Many members self-identified both individual and [d]epartment failings in the investigations and constructively discussed what changes to policy, training, and standard operating procedures were necessary to ensure better [d]epartmental performance and restore public trust," explains the report
The report also blames a "culture of face-to-face discussion" rather than written confirmations and procedures for many of the lapses in the Celeste Guap investigation.
"Some individuals involved in the investigations were not aware of the failures in the investigation until publication of the Swanson Report and, prior to reading it, had assumed that certain follow-up actions had been taken."
The city and plaintiffs attorneys head back to court on Oct. 2 to discuss the steps OPD has taken to shore up its internal investigations, among other reforms.
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