OAKLAND, Calif. - The Oakland Police Commission search panel is trying to fill a couple of upcoming vacancies but has received very few applications. The commission is trying to get the word out and hoping it spurs further interest in the group.
Approved by voters in 2016, the civilian-led Oakland Police Commission is tasked with ensuring the embattled department follows constitutional policing practices and provides oversight.
"It is a lot of work, and it’s very demanding," said Jim Chanin, chair of the selection panel for the commission. "Some of the decisions are controversial."
Among its duties, the seven-member, volunteer commission oversees police misconduct investigations and can vote to fire a police chief, as it did with Anne Kirkpatrick in February 2020.
While the Oakland Police Department remains under federal oversight, Rashidah Grinage with the Coalition for Police Accountability says the panel's workload continues to grow.
"The commissioners are being taxed by the amount of work," Grinage said. "I think it may have dissuaded people who may have otherwise been interested in becoming a police [oversight] commissioner."
Whatever the reason, the selection panel has received only 14 applications so far to fill the two upcoming vacancies. Chanin likens the qualifications needed to that of a juror, which are basically none.
"You don’t need any qualifications to be a juror," Chanin said. "Except one, be fair to all sides, you can’t come in with an agenda."
Applicants must be an Oakland resident and at least 18 years of age.
They cannot be:
- A current police officer or former OPD officer
- A current Oakland city employee
- A current or former representative of a police labor union
- An attorney who has a pending claim or lawsuit against OPD
- An attorney who has filed a claim or lawsuit against OPD that was resolved in the last year.
"We’re looking for a legitimate cross-section of the city; racially, politically," Chanin added.
The first order of business for new commissioners: helping with the search for new chief candidates after Mayor Sheng Thao fired former Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.
The initial deadline of May 31 has been extended to June 7 in hopes of attracting more applicants.
"[It's] an opportunity people should welcome and want to be part of, I hope we get more interest in the coming week," Grinage said.
For more information, or to apply to be on the police commission, viewers can visit here.