OAKLAND (BCN) Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan alleged today that it appears that Mayor Libby Schaaf was behind a City Council committee's decision to postpone a hearing on the Police Department's response to criticism of its involvement in an immigration raid in August.
The City Council's Public Safety Committee had been scheduled to discuss the matter at its meeting next Tuesday but the council's Rules Committee voted on Thursday to take the issue off Public Safety Committee's agenda.
Kaplan said the hearing on the Police Department's cooperation with a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid in West Oakland on the morning of Aug. 16 was scheduled long before Oakland Privacy Advisory Commission Chair Brian Hofer and others filed a complaint on Monday alleging that Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick made false statements about the raid.
Kaplan said she understands that it might not have been appropriate for the Public Safety Committee to discuss the allegations against Kirkpatrick because they are now being investigated by the Police Department's Internal Affairs division and the city's Police Review Board.
But she said there could still be "a policy discussion" about the Police Department's cooperation with ICE.
Kaplan said, "There's no reason you couldn't distinguish the two issues."
Kaplan said the reason she thinks Mayor Schaaf's office was behind the decision to take the matter off the committee's agenda is that the City Attorney's Office, which normally raises concerns if an agenda item raises legal issues, didn't object to having a public hearing on the matter.
Kaplan also said the Police Department also didn't ask that the matter be taken off the agenda.
But City Councilwoman Annie Campbell Washington, a member of the Rules Committee, said today that she acted on her own when she moved to take the immigration issue off the Public Safety Committee's agenda and place it on the "pending" list.
Her move was seconded by Councilman Abel Guillen, a fellow Rules Committee member.
Campbell Washington said, "I had no conversation with the mayor and made the decision for myself."
She said her decision was based on the fact that there's now an internal investigation of Kirkpatrick and she doesn't think it makes sense to have the Public Safety Committee investigate the chief as well.
Campbell Washington also said the Public Safety Committee's agenda item was framed as a discussion of the Police Department's actions in the Aug. 16 raid, not as a general policy discussion about the department's cooperation with ICE.
A spokesman for Schaaf declined to comment on Kaplan's allegation that the mayor was behind the Rules Committee's move to have the agenda item removed.
The complaint against Kirkpatrick alleges that she gave false information to the public about whether the raid in the 700 block of 27th Street was a deportation matter, whether anyone detained during the raid had been charged with a crime and the timing of Oakland's termination of its agreement with ICE.
Oakland's sanctuary city policy prohibits local law enforcement from participating in federal immigration investigations.
Kaplan said the City Council voted unanimously on July 18 to immediately terminate an agreement that had allowed Oakland police officers to work on task forces headed by ICE but City Administrator Sabrina Landreth didn't end the agreement until Sept. 25.
Schaaf issued a statement on Wednesday defending the police chief, saying, "Chief Anne Kirkpatrick is an individual of immense integrity and professionalism."
Schaaf said, "I have met with Chief Kirkpatrick and the federal agents involved in the investigation to develop a thorough understanding about this matter. I have not seen anything that calls into question the chief's truthfulness or integrity."