OAKLAND -- The city's court-appointed top cop is calling for major technology and equipment upgrades, including Tasers for every Oakland police officer, to help the department finally complete a decade-old reform drive.
In his initial action plan released late Wednesday, Thomas Frazier, whose title of compliance director belies his expansive power over Oakland's police department, noted that the department's technology issues are "one of the recurring themes" hindering its ability to comply with court-mandated reforms.
Frazier proposed that the city spend nearly $2 million on training and new technology.
Frazier, a former Baltimore police commissioner, was handed far-reaching power over Oakland's police department by a federal judge earlier this year to force through reforms stemming from the Riders police brutality scandal.
While he will work with city officials on a budget for his office, Frazier has authority to order expenditures of less than $250,000.
City officials were unavailable for comment late Wednesday.
The unmet reform tasks focus primarily on how the department polices itself and investigates officers. Frazier noted that his authority and his proposals go well beyond the specific unmet reforms, which he said was necessary to "insure that Oakland has a strong police department" that is "well-positioned for the future."
Frazier's report paints a picture of a department unable to integrate new technology necessary to meet modern policing standards.
Key reforms such as recording police stops are hampered by nonfunctional data terminals in police vehicles, Frazier wrote.
To limit the unwarranted use of lethal force by officers, Frazier proposed the purchase of 200 additional Tasers.
John Burris, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs in the Riders case, said he was not bothered by the Taser recommendation, and was not surprised by Frazier's emphasis on technology and equipment.
"There was always a sense that Oakland was a little behind when it comes to use of technology and modern policing," Burris said.
In all, Frazier is calling for the city to spend the following:
Frazier also proposed $650,000 in new training for officers, including classes on racial profiling and a leadership academy for top officers.
In addition to technology, Frazier said the department must promote more officers to sergeant to improve oversight and groom future leaders. Newly minted sergeants should be "prime candidates" for assignment to the city's troubled Internal Affairs Division.
Frazier also focused on the need to create a culture of accountability in the department. He criticized department leadership for failing to hold problem officers and top commanders responsible for their actions.
"Executive leadership must send a clear message to the rank and file," Frazier wrote, "that misconduct by one reflects poorly on all."
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.