OAKLAND -- A federal judge Friday gave the city and opposing attorneys three additional weeks to submit candidates for a court-appointed position with broad power over Oakland's police force.
U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson had given both sides until Friday to propose candidates for the position of police compliance director, but at their request he has pushed back the deadline to Jan. 11.
The compliance director will have authority to spend city funds and overrule top commanders in order to get police to fully satisfy 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 in 2008, the director would be able to fire the police chief and demote his deputies.
John Burris, one of two attorneys who represented plaintiffs in the Riders civil case against the city, said he hoped to reach agreement with city leaders on a joint candidate to present to Henderson.
Candidate interviews have begun, Burris said, but the holiday season has made it difficult to talk to potential applicants.
"I'm concerned about pushing it back, but this is the most critical decision that can be made, and we want to make sure we get the right person for the job," Burris said. He expected the compliance director to be on the job by the end of January.
The one candidate to be named publicly, former Oakland
The city and opposing attorneys are scheduled to discuss applicants with the assistance of a federal judge Thursday. If they can't agree, they will submit separate applicants to Henderson, who has reserved the right to reject proposed candidates and appoint someone else.
The director will have a month to devise a plan to get the department to comply with outstanding reform tasks, including internal affairs investigations, reporting the use of force and keeping tabs on officers with a history of aggressive behavior. Those tasks are now slated for completion by the end of next year.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.