OAKLAND -- In his first public statement, the court-appointed director with unprecedented power over the Oakland Police Department announced Friday that he will work outside of police headquarters and make his progress reports available to the public.
Thomas Frazier, the former Baltimore police commissioner, began work Monday as Oakland's compliance director, a position with sweeping powers to force through a decade-old reform effort that was supposed to have been completed five years ago.
In a one-page email Friday, Frazier noted that he was accountable only to U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson and that he has authority "to review and direct many aspects of department police, discipline and operations."
Frazier, whom the city is required to pay a $270,000 annual salary, also said he would assemble a small support staff. Frazier's staffers also would likely be paid from city coffers.
Frazier did not say if he would work in a city office or rent a separate space for his staff -- another potential city expense.
Councilman Noel Gallo was disappointed to learn that Frazier wouldn't be working out of police headquarters, where he could more closely collaborate with officers and that he would have his own staff when the city is starved for more police officers.
"This was not meant to be a job creation opportunity," he said. "This is supposed to be one of those situations where we can share resources."
Henderson appointed Frazier last week to complete a series of reforms mandated by a 2003 agreement that settled the Riders police brutality lawsuit. Rather than risk a full federal takeover of the department for failing to implement the reforms, city leaders agreed to let Henderson pick a director with sweeping powers to finish the job.
Frazier can order city expenditures, overrule commanders, and even seek the ouster of Chief Howard Jordan if he determines the chief is an obstacle to reforms.
In his statement, Frazier said his initial focus will be reviewing accountability among the command staff, which he called critical to complying with reforms that focus on how the department polices itself. He also said he has begun working on a timeline for completing the reforms and that his monthly status reports will be posted to the department's website.
"I look forward to the challenge of working with all parties to bring this project to closure," he wrote.
Frazier indicated that he will send out additional news releases, but didn't say whether he would make himself available for public questions.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.