Oakland -- The city's court-appointed police leader says the department has made "extraordinary" progress in finally satisfying a decade-old¿ reform plan after a series of failures placed the department on the brink of a full-fledged federal takeover.
In his first progress report released late Monday, former Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier said the biggest reason for the sudden turnaround was shake-up in department leadership -- an overhaul that he orchestrated.
"The change in the atmosphere of cooperation, and the focus on citizen service and organizational improvement have been recognized by many observers familiar with the inner workers of OPD," Frazier wrote. He also praised interim Chief Sean Whent who took over in May after Chief Howard Jordan announced his retirement.
However, Frazier also criticized city administrators for continuing to interfere with his work by delaying contracts for policing experts and excluding one of his staffers from city meetings that pertain to police technology systems. Last week, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson threatened the city with sanctions if the interference continued.
City officials said they were still reviewing the report Monday evening.
Henderson granted Frazier far-reaching power over Oakland's police department earlier this year to force through court-mandated reforms stemming from the Riders police brutality scandal.
The reform plan focuses primarily on the department's ability to police its officers, but Frazier has noted that his plan for the understaffed and technology-deficient department goes well beyond the specific unmet reforms. The expanded scope, he wrote in May, was needed "to insure that Oakland has a strong police department that is well positioned for the future."
Frazier must produce monthly reports until the police department is fully compliant with the reform plan, which city officials hope will occur sometime next year. The July report found that police had completed seven out of 11 benchmarks.
Among the department's success stories since Frazier began his work include:
The missed benchmarks were caused mainly by the failure to schedule meetings with stakeholders. Police and representatives from the District Attorney's Office met in late June to discuss discrepancies in the number of backlogged cases. A consolidated list is expected to be produced in July, Frazier wrote.