Oakland may blow deadlines in police misconduct cases

In his first public meeting to the Oakland Police Commission, Mac Muir, the newly hired director of the body's investigative arm, delivered bad news: The agency's investigators have been blowing key deadlines to complete police misconduct cases, the small team is swamped with work and they're now in the process of triaging the most egregious cases to ensure that police officers are held accountable when necessary. 

"These are truly troubling issues," said Muir, who started work about 30 days ago as the head of the Community Police Review Agency, known as CPRA. 

His position had been vacant – filled in with interim leaders – since the former director, John Alden, was fired in March 2022 for undisclosed reasons. 

Speaking at the July 27 police commission hearing – and sharing the sobering news for the first time publicly – Muir highlighted crucial lapses:

  • Of 211 cases of alleged police misconduct cases that CPRA is tasked with looking into, 64 have no investigators. And of those 211, 135 to date are still in intake, meaning no investigative work has done on them. "This is of great concern," Muir said. "This is a really significant backlog."
  • Since August 2022, the CPRA has received three cases for every one it closed, which Muir said is not sustainable.
  • The average to close each case is 363 days "and rising." The agency has only one year to close a case if it wants to impose any discipline.  "We’ve had several cases that have passed the 3304 deadline, which means there can be no discipline administered," Muir said, referring to the state statute governing police misconduct cases. The goal to complete these cases is 180 days.
  • Oakland's ransomware of the city's computer systems affected some of the work, including at least one case where interview transcriptions were deleted because of the cyber attack issues.
  • The agency is down to three investigators, two of whom are relatively new and inexperienced.

The Oaklandside first reported this news, which is the latest setback for the police commission, a body that has been embroiled in internal politics and personality conflicts for the last several months. 

Several members of the public at the meeting were angry at the commission for not noticing these issues earlier. 

"I’m just shocked this is the first time we’re hearing of this," said Cathy Leonard, head of the Coalition for Police Accountability. "And I'm also shocked that the police commission is not on top of this. Why the police commission did not know about this serious backlog and report it out to the public and try to do something about it is appalling." 

Leonard continued: "This is a prime example of the police commission not doing its job and now cases may go by the wayside. What the hell have you guys been doing? You should be ashamed of yourselves because you’re failing the citizens of Oakland." 

But Muir said it took him hours to pore over the data to figure out these lapses and he did not blame the commissioners for not knowing the severity of the problems. 

"I don't know how you, the commission, could have been aware of this," Muir said. 


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The CPRA is a team of civilian investigators who look into police misconduct complaints independently of OPD’s Internal Affairs investigators – with the thought being that a group of outside civilians would have more independence in poring over misconduct allegations than police officers themselves. The agency reports to the Oakland Police Commission. 

Currently, Oakland police investigates the same cases of police misconduct through its Internal Affairs Division.  

But Mayor Sheng Thao has said she wants to get rid of the police department's IA unit and let the CPRA investigate them by July 1, 2024. There would be an estimated 600 police misconduct cases a year. 

But with Muir's report and with other issues involving leadership of the police commission, that transition could now be in question. 

Commissioner Marsha Peterson asked Muir to clarify how many cases are going to blow past the 365-day deadline. Under a state law called the Public Safety Officers’ Procedural Bill of Rights, cities must complete police misconduct investigations within one year of learning about alleged wrongdoing by an officer. If the city doesn’t finish on time, it can’t discipline the officer.

Muir didn’t offer a specific number. 

But he said if nothing changed in the current process, CPRA would potentially have 300 cases at risk in December or January. 

For the last 15 months, CPRA was run in an interim capacity by attorney and former San Jose Independent Police Auditor Aaron Zisser. Charlotte Jones, an investigator with CPRA, took over as interim director in December 2022 until Muir started work on June 19. 

At the meeting, Muir cited a "series of staff resignations" during that time period, saying that at least five investigators quit because they were tired of their caseloads piling up. 

Commissioner Karley Ordaz asked Muir what he is doing to boost morale with the current staff. 

"I'm saying ‘Thank you’ a lot and reminding them that this will be over and that the community is relying on them," Muir answered. 

Muir did end his presentation with some hope for the future. 

He said that the good news is that he has $1.7 million to hire six new employees, including four investigators. And he has plans on how to triage the cases and begin building a database to track cases better.

Muir was raised in Oakland and studied the federal oversight of the Oakland Police Department while he was getting his bachelor's at Oberlin College.

Most recently, he was a supervising investigator at the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s largest civilian oversight agency.

Over his seven-year tenure, Muir managed a wide range of complex and politically charged investigations involving fatal shootings, chokeholds, sexual misconduct, and false official statements in every one of the New York Police Department’s 77 precincts. He supervised a team of investigators that handled more than 150 cases at a given time.

Muir said he wants to take these challenges and turn them into an opportunity to be a "national model." 

"I love this city and I need this to work," Muir said. "We've got to hear the truth and keep it real."  

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez.