Calls for OPD oversight committee in wake of East Bay police scandal

Numerous organizations and several city officials on Tuesday called for an independent civilian committee to oversee the Oakland Police Department.

The call to hold Oakland officers accountable comes on the heels of several officer involved shootings over the years and most recently a sex scandal involving several officers who are accused of having sexual contact with a teenager.

“The police can’t police themselves,” Carroll Fife, with the Oakland Alliance, said. “It’s not logical. It’s not rational.”

Councilmembers Noel Gallo and Dan Kalb sponsored the proposal to create a civilian review commission. The independent governing body would be able to hire or fire the chief and impose discipline on officers for wrongdoing.

“We’re creating a committee that is going to have real authority and real responsibility, not just merely an advisory committee,” Kalb said.

City officials have expressed frustration in recent days over the allegations of OPD’s sex assault scandal, in which a teenage woman claims she had sexual contact with multiple officers. Five officers are on leave over the allegations. Two of those officers have already resigned.

On Tuesday, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office cleared four deputies of allegations of misconduct with the same woman. However, one deputy from the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office is on leave while several officers with the Richmond Police Department are under investigation for similar accusations with the same woman.

Richmond Police Chief Allwyn Brown said no officers from the Richmond Police Department are on leave.

“I just want to make sure the folks are assured,” Brown said. “We are aware, we’ll investigate thoroughly and we’ll circle back with appropriate action.”

Brown said the Office of Professional Accountability will investigate the allegations. The group is made up of a civilian attorney and two police sergeants.

Supports of the proposed civilian oversight committee in Oakland said it is long overdue.

“Here’s our opportunity to go the distance and put real reform in place,” Kalb said.

Forming the committee in Oakland would require a change to the city charter. Because of this, the proposal would have to get full approval from the city’s safety committee and councilmembers before it can be placed on the November ballot for voters.