OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Two Oakland city councilmembers are proposing giving full control of the Police Department to the city’s police commission, and are facing pushback from the mayor, the police union and the fired former police chief.
The Oakland Police Officers Association and former Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick say the proposal is a danger to public safety.
The seven volunteer members of the Oakland Police Commission have the power to fire a police chief without cause with the mayor’s approval, the only U.S. police commission to have such power.
That’s exactly what happened to former police chief Anne Kirkpatrick, who is now living out of the state but isn’t staying quiet about her opinions on the matter.
“Oakland is a debacle on their police commission.” said Kirkpatrick. “I certainly do not think the commission should have more power I don’t even think they should have the power that they have today.”
Oakland City Council President Rebecca Kaplan and North Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb are proposing the citizen volunteers be able to override any police operational decision.
Mayor Libby Schaaf, who appoints the commission, urged the public to tell the council the to keep the police commission’s authority as is and that the chief needs the ability to respond to public safety emergencies.
“The proposal would potentially give them jurisdiction over highly critical issues that are subject to state wide standards and I believe that that would compromise Public Safety,” said Schaaf.
The police officers association released a statement Tuesday saying with Oakland’s first responders straining to serve the city on lockdown, the councilmembers are using the cover of a pandemic to ram through huge structural change with no transparency, debate or scrutiny.
Asked about whether the proposal is being pushed through while under the radar, Kirkpatrick replied, “I think the timing is curious about that.”
Kirkpatrick said she is getting ready to file a lawsuit against the city for her what she calls an illegal and discriminatory firing by the police commission.
“With more power now they’re going to be truly jeopardizing community safety and these police officer safety and I’m not gonna be quiet about it,” she said. “I’m going to stand up and speak out.”
The Oakland Police Officers Association said Tuesday in a statement, “The proposal will endanger public safety by allowIng the commission to prevent rapid response to public safety emergencies, override police operations, divert public safety resources, and make decisions on highly technical operations. A Volunteer group that only meets twice a month.”