Oakland to decide civilian review commission for police

The Oakland City Council is set to decide on Tuesday whether or not to place a measure on the November ballot that would create an independent civilian review commission.

Rashidah Grinage with the Coalition for Police Accountability said she and others are behind the push to give voters the option to create the commission that would oversee the Oakland Police Department.

“I feel like we’re on the precipice of a major change in Oakland,” Grinage said. “We have been working for this for a very long time.”

Grinage said the group initially tried to get the proposal on the ballot in 2014, but it was rejected. Since then, they researched, interviewed, and structured a proposal for a commission based on studying other major cities with independent review boards.

If approved, the commission would be able to investigate, discipline officers, and recommend police policies. The commission would also have the power to hire or fire the chief by a majority vote. It would be made up of seven members, four of which would be appointed by the public, and three appointed by Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Gwen Hardy with co-founder of PUEBLO, People United for a Better Life in Oakland, said they wanted the public to have full control of appointing representatives, but the compromise in an important first step.

“It’s kind of like a mixed bag, but we can also be happy that that at least we're going to have something for the people and I think the people will be happy with it,” Hardy said.

Councilmember Noel Gallo, who sponsored the proposal along with Councilmember Dan Kalb, said he believed the board will unanimously vote to send it to the November ballot. Gallo said they worked with several unions to make sure there was a full compromise on all sides for the proposal to move forward.

“I want to just honor the citizens of Oakland that are paying their taxes to make sure that we get a quality service when it comes to public safety,” Gallo said.

The vote for a civilian review commission comes as the police department is embroiled in a sex scandal and without a police chief.

“We deserve to have a police department that practices constitutional policing, that does not engage in racial profiling, that does not use excessive force and killing, and we deserve to have a police department we can trust,” Grinage added.

Calls to the Oakland Police Officers Association were not immediately returned.

If approved for the ballot and later approved by voters in November, the commission would likely be implemented in the fall of 2017.