OAKLAND -- The Oakland Police Department is slowly making progress toward meeting reforms mandated by a decade-old lawsuit settlement of police brutality cases in West Oakland, a court-appointed monitor found.
In his 13th quarterly report on police department reform efforts, Robert Warshaw found that the department has made "slight improvement" in meeting 51 reform tasks mandated by a 2003 agreement that settled the Riders police brutality case.
Warshaw's latest report, released Monday, is in stark contrast to a report released in January in which Warshaw chastised the department and city leadership for backsliding on reform efforts.
Much of that backsliding was connected to the slow pace at which the department was dealing with investigations of officers involved with Occupy Oakland protests.
In his most recent report, however, Warshaw found that the department has improved the time it takes to investigate complaints against officers and has developed a policy that sets deadlines for investigations.
Despite the somewhat positive report, Warshaw still offered frustration with the department and city over reform efforts and said he looked forward to having a court-appointed compliance director in charge of the department.
That compliance director, Thomas Frazier, was appointed earlier this year to oversee department reforms and has the power to fire the chief and order city leadership to spend money on improvements.
In his report, Warshaw wrote that Frazier's appointment should lead to quicker compliance.
"We are hopeful that the Court's appointment of Commissioner Frazier will implement the reforms in the (agreement); invigorate the police leadership; and increase the accountability," Warshaw wrote.
John Burris, one of two attorneys who sued the city and helped craft the settlement agreement, said he believes the move to appoint Frazier is what caused the department's "slight" improvement.
"I think that impetus behind all of this is the receiver motion, it really helped and motivated everyone," Burris said of his court motion last year seeking a court-appointed director. "It seems like some progress is being made, albeit slowly."