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Gallo Takes Heat for Backing Police Accountability Measure

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City Councilmember Noel Gallo is coming under a lot of pressure for backing a proposal by a community coalition that wants the City Council to put a charter amendment on the November ballot to create a Public Safety Oversight Commission in Oakland.

With the support of Gallo, who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, and Councilmember Dan Kalb, the resolution cleared the Rules Committee last week and is scheduled to be discussed next week at Public Safety.

< p>While Gallo says he has not heard directly from the Oakland Police Officers Association (OPOA), he is getting the message second hand.

“What I’ve been hearing from colleagues and other people is almost threatening, (saying) how do I dare do what the citizens asked me to do,” said Gallo in an interview with the Post.

He says people are advancing their own “personal agendas.”

“They’re not concerned about the overall direction of the city,” he said. “I’m disappointed about some of the comments I’m getting.”

If a version of the measure passes at Public Safety, it will go to the full council for a vote. But if the ballot measure is not approved by council by the time it breaks for its August recess, the proposed city charter amendment cannot be on the ballot until the next election in 2016.

The proposal is the product of nine months of work by a citywide coalition of police accountability activists, who want to create a public safety commission that would assume most of the authority over the police department, including discipline of officers, currently in the hands of the City Administrator’s office.

Barry Donelan, OPOA President

Barry Donelan, OPA President

The new commission would be combined of the staff members and budgets of several existing committees and therefore would not generate new expenses, according to the measure’s supporters.

Rashidah Grinage, a spokesperson for the Coalition for Police Accountability that is calling for the charter amendment, says she has heard that the OPOA is threatening not to back renewal of the city’s Measure Y public safety tax in November if the council puts the police accountability measure on the ballot.

Barry Donelan, president of the OPOA, considers the proposed police oversight would only create unnecessary bureaucracy.

“I think there’s no need for a layer of oversight on top of what we have already,” he said. “I think the city is better served using its meager financial resources to fight crime rather than to create another (committee).”

He said his organization is not part of the discussion over the wording of the new Measure Y but denied that this is saying anything negative about the ballot measure.

“We have not been part of it since day one,” he said, but “anything that puts more resources into high amount of crime in Oakland is a good thing,” he said.

Gallo said that because of the work of Grinage and the Coalition for Police Accountability, he now understands the need to strengthen the city’s oversight of the police department.

“I’m extremely grateful to Rashidah and all the people who have brought this (measure) forward,” he said, because they have forced him to examine what the city is doing to provide police oversight and to understand that at present the city is ineffective and failing to deliver on its promise, he said.

Post Publisher Paul Cobb says he has heard that OPOA is opposing the police

Lynette Gibson McElhaney

Lynette Gibson McElhaney

accountability measure by contacting community members who support it and letting them know of the OPOA’s displeasure.

Cobb said this is similar to the tactic used by former OPOA President Bob Valladon who threatened the late Post Editor Chauncey Bailey when he was investigating corruption at OPD, shortly before Bailey was assassinated in 2007.

Councilmember Lynette McElhney, who serves on the Public Safety Committee, says she

opposes putting a police accountability measure on the ballot at this time.

“We need a much more deliberative process than 35 days in examining it,” she said, adding that the community coalition may have been working on the proposal for nine months, but council members have had it only for a couple of weeks.

“I think it can be a diversion to the more important measure, which is the successor to (Measure) Y,” she said. “We should not be focused on anything but the successor to Y.”

“We need to be focused on the $22 million a year that Y brings to this community,” she said. “I don’t want to talk about any other measure. It would be a disaster if we lost that money.”

Councilmember Dan Kalb, who also sits on the Public Safety committee, likes the idea of having a police commission in Oakland. “I’m aware that they have police commissions in other cities, (and) I generally look favorably to having such an agency here in Oakland.”

He said that he is hearing around City Hall that there is not enough time to discuss the issue and modify it.

Kalb“To finish (that work) in time for the ballot may be very challenging,” Kalb said. “But if other council members support it and we can get the right final language, I would support it.

Activism

Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

The printed Weekly Edition of the Oakland Post: Week of June 12-18, 2024

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Bay Area

Sen. Wiener, Mayor Breed Announce Bill to Shut Down Fencing of Stolen Goods

On June 3, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed joined State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to announce a bill aiming to combat fencing, the sale of stolen goods. Authored by Wiener and sponsored by Breed, Senate Bill (SB) 925 would allow San Francisco to create permitting requirements to regulate the sale of items commonly obtained through retail theft and impose criminal penalties for those who engage in this practice.

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By Oakland Post Staff

On June 3, San Francisco Mayor London N. Breed joined State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to announce a bill aiming to combat fencing, the sale of stolen goods.

Authored by Wiener and sponsored by Breed, Senate Bill (SB) 925 would allow San Francisco to create permitting requirements to regulate the sale of items commonly obtained through retail theft and impose criminal penalties for those who engage in this practice.

“The sale of stolen items in San Francisco has created unsafe street conditions and health and safety hazards that have negatively impacted residents, businesses, City workers, and legitimate street vendors,” states a statement released by the mayor’s office.

San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) Chief Bill Scott praised the effort.

“I want to thank Mayor Breed and Senator Wiener for identifying new ways to combat the illegal fencing of stolen goods. This will help our hard-working officers continue to make progress in cracking down on retail theft,” said Scott.

Under the legislation, San Francisco can require vendors to obtain a permit to be able to sell items deemed as frequently stolen by asking for documentation that the merchandise was obtained legitimately, such as showing proof of purchase.

The legislation also establishes that those in violation would receive an infraction for the first two offenses and an infraction or a misdemeanor and up to six months in county jail for the third offense.

Under this bill, people can still:

  • Sell goods with a permit
  • Sell prepared food with a permit
  • Sell goods on the list of frequently stolen items with a permit and proof of purchase.

“In San Francisco we are working hard to make our streets safer and more welcoming for all. SB 925 would greatly help us get a handle on the sale of stolen goods, all while taking a narrow approach that specifically targets bad actors,” said Breed.

Wiener says the cultural richness of San Francisco and the livelihoods of legitimate street vendors are threatened when bad actors are allowed to openly sell stolen goods on the city’s streets.

“With this bill we’re taking a balanced approach that respects the critical role street vending plays in our community while holding fencing operations accountable for the disruption they cause. It’s critical that everyone feel safe on our streets, including street vendors and neighborhood residents,” said Wiener.

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City Government

SUSD’s Dept. of Public Safety Achieves Compliance with State DOJ’s Five-Year Stipulated Judgment

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities.

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California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Official photo, SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco. Official photo, Pastor Trena Turner of Stockton’s Victory In Praise Church. Victory in Praise Church photo.
California Attorney General Rob Bonta. Official photo, SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco. Official photo, Pastor Trena Turner of Stockton’s Victory In Praise Church. Victory in Praise Church photo.

Special to the Post

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has ended monitoring of the Stockton Unified School District (District) and its Department of Public Safety (Department), concluding the five-year term of the stipulated judgment that addressed system-wide violations of the civil and constitutional rights of Black and Latino students and students with disabilities.

The District has also committed to implementing a plan to further reduce disproportionalities in law enforcement referrals through school year 2026-2027, which will institutionalize the revised policies and practices and continue the progress made under the judgment.

“Over the past five years, the California Department of Justice and the Stockton Unified School District worked together to successfully implement the corrective actions set out in the stipulated judgment to protect the rights of students in schools,” Bonta said on April 11. 

“Today we can celebrate that the agreement has helped the District take important steps to address concerns regarding interactions between police officers and students and to promote an equitable and positive learning environment.

“This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our educators, staff, students, and Department of Public Safety, said SUSD Supt. Dr. Michelle Rodriguez. “We reaffirm our commitment to continue the important changes and policies and remain steadfast in our mission to improve services and support for all students, ensuring that each child has the opportunity to succeed academically, socially, and emotionally.”

“The Department is proud of the work that was completed surrounding the DOJ Agreement which has not only made us a better Department but has placed us at the forefront of progressive policing,” said SUSD Police Chief Mayra Franco.

“The consent decree was phase one. Now we must build on this momentum to cement the progress that has been made, and fix policdes and practices that continue to hurt SUSD students and families,” said Jasmine Dellafosse, Director of Organizing and Community Engagement at End Poverty in CA.

“The requisite collaboration that took place with community members and the Stockton Unified School District was an admirable beginning,” said Pastor Trena Turner, Victory In Praise Church. “Continued efforts of transparency and inclusion that outlasts the monitoring period, will be of paramount importance to further strengthen the district and ultimately improve the lived experience of our students.”

In 2019, a DOJ investigation concluded that the District’s policies and practices with respect to law enforcement referrals discriminated against Black and Latino students and students with disabilities. The investigation also found unconstitutional search and seizure practices.

DOJ and the District entered into a stipulated judgment that required significant reforms and a five-year monitoring period. As part of the stipulated judgment, which concluded on Feb. 19, the District:

  • Established clear policies and procedures limiting when school administrators refer students to law enforcement.
  • Created a formal diversion program in lieu of citations and arrests to address minor school-based offenses.
  • Revised policies and procedures relating to treatment of students with disabilities in order to prevent discrimination, including the hiring of a trained Disability Coordinator.
  • Created clear processes for school site administrators to refer students with mental health needs to support services rather than a referral to law enforcement.
  • Instituted mandatory annual training of all officers and staff regarding civil and constitutional rights, disability and special education laws, and elimination of bias.
  • Reformed use of force policies, procedures, and practices, including implementing a comprehensive review process.
  • Updated search and seizure policies.
  • Used data to track and analyze all arrests and referrals to law enforcement from schools; and
  • Established the Community Advisory Group, which collaborated with the District to provide input and review updated policies.

Overall, the judgment led to markedly improved outcomes for students. Total arrests of students dropped significantly; in school year 2018-2019, there were 155 arrests, compared to nine arrests during school year 2022-2023. Calls for service to the Department decreased by 54% and unwarranted calls for service decreased by 52%.

Under the disproportionality plan, the Community Advisory Group and Transformative Justice subcommittee, consisting of community organizations and other stakeholders, will continue to meet regularly to improve and reduce disparities in law enforcement referrals and receive and analyze disaggregated and anonymized District data on use of force, law enforcement contacts, citations, arrests, and calls for assistance.

The media office of California State Attorney General Rob Bonta is the source of this report.

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