OAKLAND -- The city and opposing attorneys have failed to agree on who should fill a position with broad power over Oakland's police force and intend to submit separate slates of candidates Friday for a federal judge to consider.
Whomever U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson selects to become Oakland's police compliance director will have authority to spend city funds and overrule top commanders in order to get police fully compliant with a court-sanctioned reform effort agreed to in the wake of the decade-old Riders police brutality scandal.
If the department continues to lag on the reforms, which were supposed to be completed five years ago, the director would be able to fire Chief Howard Jordan and demote his deputies.
Henderson had originally given both sides until Dec. 21 to propose candidates for the job, but then extended the deadline to Jan. 11. He also ordered a federal magistrate to oversee negotiations in hopes that a consensus candidate could be found.
But no agreement was reached and no additional talks have been scheduled.
"My sense is they will submit their names and we will submit our names," said John Burris, one of two attorneys who represented plaintiffs in the Riders civil case against the city.
Both sides refused to discuss any sticking points in the negotiations or say how many candidates they intended to submit to Henderson.
The names of candidates will not be made public, under a court
Henderson, who is not bound by the recommendations of either side, is expected to consider both slates before selecting the compliance director who will report directly to him.
Oakland opted to surrender significant control over its police force late last year rather than risk Henderson putting the entire department under the control of a federal boss.
The stalled reform mandate stemming from the Riders case required Oakland to complete 51 tasks aimed at making the police department more accountable and helping it to better police itself.
Most of the tasks have been completed, but the department remains out of compliance on several fronts, including investigating its own officers, reporting the use of force and tracking officers with a history of high-risk behavior.
The compliance director will be in charge of completing those reforms, with a goal of getting them done by the end of the year.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.