Professor Sam Walker addresses ACLU
Nationally-recognized expert on police practices and accountability, Professor Emeritus Sam Walker made an appearance at the Paul Robeson Chapter of the ACLU annual event. He addressed issues of civil liberties related to the expansion of homeland security, and discussed the need for more civic engagement to pressure municipal governments to reign in unacceptable police practices, such as racial profiling.
Walker talked about different models of civilian oversight, and seemed to express a preference for the auditor model over the police review board model because the auditor has the authority to compel the police department to produce records and documents and has the capacity to recommend policy changes in the way the police department functions. He conceded that for someone who has been mistreated by police, policy reform absent discipline for the offending officer would not be satisfying.
Discussing the possibility that Judge Thelton Henderson might place Oakland's police department in federal receivership, Walker indicated that there was no way to know what the ramifications of such a move would be since it has never occurred before! The question of how police could be compelled to change the way it polices a community remains unanswered, Walker noted. He was reluctant to transfer the authority to compel change away from police chiefs, yet he was unable to offer a way of getting the chief to alter practices other than community pressure brought to bear on the Chief, the Mayor and the City Council of municipal governments.