MAYORAL CANDIDATES ON POLICE OVERSIGHT
Oakland's Mayoral Candidates were given a questionnaire about their views on police oversight. L.L. Young, Greg Harland and Don Perata failed to respond, although Mr. Perata is on record as favoring the closure of the Citizens' Police Review Board. Following are the questions and responses of the candidates. Since Joe Tuman, Rebecca Kaplan and Don Macleay responded with lengthy essays, we will attach those below, in their entirety.
Q 1 If you are elected Mayor, do you commit to ensuring that the Citizens' Police Review Board (CPRB) will continue
to be funded by the City?
Fields: Definitely, yes.
Harland: Did not respond.
Hodge: Yes, I would support the CPRB ensuring their longevity.
Kaplan: (see attached statement below)
Young: Did not respond.
Macleay: (see attached statement below)
Perata: Did not respond, but has stated he would abolish the CPRB.
Tuman: (see attached statement below)
Q 2 Do you commit to providing sufficient funding to allow the CPRB to staff up to enable them to receive all
citizen complaints? This police change, approved overwhelmingly by the City Council, would allow for
the re-deployment of at least eight Internal Affairs officers to perform functions that promote public
safety and will become cost-neutral by the third year, with cost-savings thereafter.
Candell: Yes. I am not concerned about the cost, as I intend to raise revenue that will make that portion
a moot point. It is more important that a citizen's review board be responsible and sensitive to
handling citizen complaints.
Fields: Definitely, yes.
Harland: Did not respond.
Hodge: I would further review the issue to determine the impact of funding cuts that affect staffing.
Kaplan: (again, see attached statement below)
Young: Did not respond.
Macleay: (see attached response statement below)
Perata: Did not respond, but has stated that he would eliminate the CPRB.
Tuman: (see statement below)
JOINT RESPONSES FROM REBECCA KAPLAN AND DON MACLEAY
We are writing jointly with our shared vision and plan to preserve and
strengthen civilian police review and improve public safety in Oakland.
By Don Macleay and Rebecca Kaplan.
First, we would like to make clear that our answers to the two
questions above are both an unequivocal and strong Yes. Furthermore,
we have discussed this issue at length and want to make it known to
the public where we stand on the issue of the relationship between the
police the public.
Public safety is an essential goal for our city. All parts of our
community must be safe. Ensuring widespread public safety requires a
coherent set of actions, including effective use of police resources,
violence prevention, and strengthened community-police relationships.
Maintaining and strengthening the Citizens Police Review Board (CPRB)
is vital, not only because it is legally-mandated, but also because it
is good public policy and it is fiscally responsible.
From a public policy perspective, we believe in the principal of
democratic civilian control, including over police. It is incumbent on
the elected officials, as the civilian government, to have the final
say over all police matters including, but not limited to, budgeting,
internal controls, and public complaints.
Intake of public complaints should be handled by civilians, for several reasons:
a) In order to provide effective policing, and to be fiscally
responsible, we should be working to ensure that as many police
officers as possible are deployed in a way that provides safety to the
public. When a task can be handled by a civilian, doing so makes it
possible to re-deploy sworn officers to the essential task of fighting
crime, while saving money due to the lower cost of civilian staffing.
Therefore, civilianizing this process is an important part of
providing effective policing for our city while reducing our budget
crisis for the long-term.
b) We believe that a member of the public who has been mistreated
by a police officer should have the right to speak to someone who is a
civilian when filing that complaint. A person who claims to have been
abused by a peace officer should not be forced to come to an officer
or be confronted by an officer in order to file their complaint.
c) Any reforms to the charter or budget should incorporate
principals of civilian control, review and oversight.
d) Our police officers work very hard, and should be treated with
respect, and should be expected to treat the community with respect.
In addition to the issue of handling complaints, we believe that
civilianization and improved connections with our local Oakland
communities should be used as a broader public safety strategy:
e) We propose that the police department itself become the
employer of more civilians. Trained civilians can do supportive
investigative work at the crime scene, in the lab, and in
neighborhoods. These strategies can be used to strengthen evidence
gathering and analysis, blight and illegal dumping enforcement, and
more. Use of trained civilians can help improve response times, ensure
that police officers are deployed to fight crime, and improve
community safety while balancing the budget.
f) We also want to see a police force with a higher percentage of
officers living in our city, which will improve neighborhood safety
and strengthen community-police relationships. Without violating legal
prohibitions on ordering officers to live in Oakland, we can improve
this situation by: recruiting Oakland residents to the police
department, including through strategies like the “cadet” program;
providing homebuyer assistance to purchase homes in Oakland; and
ensuring that officers live close enough to respond quickly in an
emergency. In addition, we should ensure that a prior conviction does
not bar someone who has turned their life around from joining our
g) Lastly, we would like to add that there are additional
“civilian-based” strategies that should be strengthened to improve
public safety in the long-run, like Restorative Justice. Programs like
the McCullum Youth Court can be a very effective tool, by providing a
system in which victims receive restoration, and preventing a new
generation from entering the cycle of crime and revenge. People can
be held accountable for the harms they cause, and required to make
amends to those they have harmed, in a process that increases (rather
than decreases) the chances to then go on and lead a non-violent life.
h) Since California’s prison system is greatly harming our State
budget and our State economy, while simultaneously failing utterly at
the goal of “corrections” – with a recidivism rate so high that that
our incarceration system as a whole has actually been causing more
crime -- we must be willing to employ more effective options.
RESPONSES FROM JOE TUMAN
I will definitively state that I believe that police oversight is not only invaluable, it is vital to
ensuring both an ethical and responsible police force and to rectifying the distrustful relationship
between many of our residents and the police that currently exists. Maintaining the CPRB is a
priority for me and I will ardently strive to see that it remains an effective check on potential
police abuses. That said, until I am Mayor and can truly evaluate our budgetary reality, I cannot
commit to any amount of funding for any program. To be clear, the CPRB is a priority of mine
but if I face a choice between maintaining the CPRB’s funding and ensuring the delivery of vital
City services, I will likely choose the latter over the former.
I fully acknowledge that this is a difficult answer to give to you but I would strongly caution you
to look long and hard at any candidate that gives you a simple “yes” answer to this question. The
fact of the matter is this. Oakland is in crisis and anyone who definitively tells you that any
discretionary funding, including that which provides for the CPRB, will be safe in their
administration is at best pandering to you and at worst, outright lying. I have run on the fact that
I will make the hard choices necessary to reverse the policies, instituted by our career-politicians,
that have put Oakland in peril. I have also promised to tell you the truth. The simple truth is that
I would like to continue the CPRB, it is a high priority of mine, but I cannot honestly tell you at
this time that I will be able to do so. I hope you will take me at my word as to my devotion to
this program and also appreciate the fact that I am willing to be brutally honest with you as to
funding, rather than simply telling you what you want to hear.
As I mentioned above, I cannot commit to any level of funding until I am Mayor and can fully
evaluate the budgetary crisis we face. Having reiterated that point, if I am presented with hard
numbers that bear out the contention that the proposal is truly revenue neutral within three years
and then creates actual cost-savings, I would, obviously reexamine my position. I have yet to see
such data. If I am presented with real, verifiable data that establishes this fact, of course I would
support such a reallocation of City resources. By relieving IAD officers of their complaint
review duties, we can further accelerate our rectification of Oakland’s public safety crisis while
simultaneously ensuring the accountability for police misconduct and improving communitypolice