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Auditor To Investigate Police Response At Occupy Oakland Protests

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Oakland Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd during a protest against the raid of the "Occupy Oakland" encampment on October 25, 2011. (CBS)

Oakland Police use tear gas to disperse a crowd during a protest against the raid of the “Occupy Oakland” encampment on October 25, 2011. (CBS)

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OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Oakland Mayor Jean Quan has appointed an independent investigator to evaluate the police use of force in responding to Occupy demonstrations.

At a news conference Wednesday, Quan and police Chief Howard Jordan said a team led by consultant Thomas Frazier would conduct the investigation.

Critics say Oakland police used excessive force when they fired tear gas and bean bags at protesters on Oct. 25 and Nov. 2.

Quan said, “I’ve been waiting for this for quite a while” and promised that the investigation will be “a public and transparent process.”

Many protesters and community members have criticized the use of force by officers from Oakland and other law enforcement agencies in responding to Occupy Oakland demonstrations.

Referring to the demonstrations, Quan said, “For the most part, police acted professionally and the protesters demonstrated peacefully, but there were exceptions on both sides.”

She said, “We wanted to have an outside look at what happened. We need to have a balance between maintaining the civil rights of our citizens and having effective policing.”

Joining Quan at a news conference at City Hall, City Administrator Deanna Santana said hiring a team to conduct an independent investigation “demonstrates that we have nothing to hide and we’re eager to learn.”

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Santana said the investigators’ report will show “when we do things right, if there are things we could do better and if we need to take corrective action.”

Police Chief Howard Jordan said, “If the report reveals any wrongdoing, I’m committed to taking swift action.”

Jordan said the department takes the use of force “very seriously” and that his department reviews all incidents in which officers use force.

Santana said that among the items that the investigation will review are compliance with the Oakland Police Department’s rules, tactics, operation planning and the handling of the protesters who were arrested.

She said the investigation will cost about $100,000.

Frazier said he anticipates that the investigation will take about 90 days or possibly a little bit longer.

The move comes as Quan faces two campaigns to recall her by opponents who have criticized her handling of Occupy protesters who spent weeks camping in front of City Hall.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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