Oakland Police Department Negotiated Settlement Agreement

The Oakland Police Department Negotiated Settlement Agreement: What You Need to Know

In 2003, the Oakland Police Department (OPD) faced a crisis. A string of police misconduct cases had become public, including the notorious “Riders” case in which four officers were accused of planting evidence, lying in court, and beating and kidnapping suspected drug dealers. In response, the federal government launched an investigation into the department`s practices, eventually resulting in a negotiated settlement agreement (NSA) between the OPD, the City of Oakland, and the Department of Justice.

The NSA was designed to address systemic problems within the OPD. It included a series of reforms aimed at improving the department`s accountability, transparency, and community relations. Some of the key provisions of the NSA included:

1. Use of Force Policies: The NSA mandated that the OPD update its use of force policies to comply with constitutional standards and best practices. This included guidelines for when and how officers can use force, as well as protocols for reporting and investigating use of force incidents.

2. Monitoring and Reporting: The NSA required the OPD to establish an independent monitor to oversee compliance with the agreement, and to provide regular reports to the court and the public on its progress in implementing the reforms.

3. Community Engagement: The NSA emphasized the importance of community input and involvement in reform efforts. The OPD was required to establish mechanisms for community members to provide feedback on police practices, and to incorporate that feedback into its policies and procedures.

4. Training and Recruitment: The NSA called for increased training for OPD officers on topics such as community policing, bias awareness, and de-escalation techniques. It also required the department to implement new recruitment and hiring practices aimed at increasing diversity within the force.

Since the NSA was implemented, the OPD has made significant progress in implementing the agreed-upon reforms. Use of force incidents have decreased, and the department has established better communication and relationships with the community it serves. However, the department has also faced challenges in fully complying with the NSA`s requirements, particularly around officer accountability and discipline.

In 2019, the independent monitor overseeing the NSA expressed concern that the OPD was not adequately addressing officer misconduct. The monitor noted that the department had failed to discipline officers for use of force incidents and other violations, and had not fully implemented the NSA`s requirements on officer accountability.

Despite these challenges, the Oakland Police Department Negotiated Settlement Agreement remains a significant milestone in police reform efforts. It has served as a model for other cities grappling with similar issues, and has helped to improve the relationship between the OPD and the communities it serves. As the debate around police reform continues, the NSA provides a valuable example of what can be achieved through collaborative efforts between law enforcement and community stakeholders.