“It’s a subtle kind of arrangement as a compliance officer is a shade below under the strict control of a federal receiver, but it still allows the judge to monitor things,” said Weisberg, director of Stanford’s Criminal Justice Center. “It appeared that the possibility of receivership caused both parties to finally realize that they had to find some common ground after all of these years.”
Burris said a critical step will be selecting a compliance director, “preferably a former police chief who has worked in a major department and has excellent knowledge of law enforcement and good communication skills.”
Jordan told reporters the city is in the process of identifying potential compliance directors.
Barry Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said the near 11th-hour deal finally removes some uncertainty surrounding the beleaguered department. He noted that the department has 200 fewer officers than four years ago and is battling a violent crime rate that is up more than 23 percent from last year.
“This deals gives us some leadership in our city that is certainly needed,” Donelan said. “The crime rate is souring, our officers are overworked, and we welcome someone who can help us get into compliance.”
The 2003 lawsuit was filed amid claims that several rogue officers beat or framed drug suspects in 2000. The claims resulted in nearly $11 million in payments to 119 plaintiffs and attorneys.
The settlement initially called for the reforms to be completed within five years. But Burris and Chanin said high-ranking city officials have thwarted those efforts, and the lawyers asked the judge in October to place the department under federal control.
A frustrated Judge Henderson said in January that he was “in disbelief” that the Oakland police had failed to adopt the reforms and threatened federal takeover of the agency.
A federal monitor appointed to the case repeatedly reported that the department was stalling on completing key tasks, including tracking problem officers and reporting the use of force.
However, Jordan and Quan have insisted the department is making progress with the reforms. City attorneys said 10 of 51 assigned tasks were left to complete.
If Henderson approves the deal, he would hold a status conference about six months after a compliance director is chosen. If he doesn’t see any acceptable progress, he could issue several orders including receivership.