OAKLAND -- Oakland police will miss the deadline to finish investigating complaints stemming from the first Occupy Oakland eviction last Oct. 25, potentially placing the department one step closer to a federal takeover.
"We did not have the capacity to complete these high number of complex complaints within 180 days," City Administrator Deanna Santana said.
Santana and police Chief Howard Jordan have informed a federal monitor overseeing the police department that police won't meet the April 25 deadline but would not disclose if the department might face repercussions.
Under state law, police have a year to complete the internal affairs investigations, but Oakland police are required to complete theirs within 180 days under a 2003 agreement that settled a prior police misconduct lawsuit.
The department has struggled to fully implement reforms spelled out in the agreement, leading a federal judge earlier this year to threaten placing the department under receivership if it didn't make substantial progress in the coming months.
Jim Chanin, an attorney who helped negotiate the 2003 settlement, said the department had no excuse for not completing the investigations on time.
"To miss the deadline on something like this is not acceptable," he said. "The best solution is to have a demonstration with fewer complaints, like the other cities in the United States of America."
Police processed 721 complaints and opened 18 internal affairs investigations stemming from the Oct. 25 eviction and subsequent protests that were punctuated by former U.S. Marine Scott Olsen sustaining a skull fracture.
Overall, the department has received more than 1,090 complaints related to Occupy Oakland protests -- more than double the total number of complaints filed in 2004, Jordan said. The department also will likely miss the 180-day deadline to complete investigations into complaints related to Occupy protests on Nov. 2, he said.
Police leaders realized in February that the department's 32-member Internal Affairs Division wouldn't be able to meet the deadline for completing investigations into the Oct. 25 complaints, especially given that it is slated to lose seven members because of a new state law that prevents it from rehiring past retirees to staff positions indefinitely.
To add capacity, the department hired Frazier Group, LLC, the same consulting firm that is conducting an independent review of the department's handling of the Occupy protests. When it became clear that more help was needed, Jordan asked the council to increase Frazier's initial $100,000 contract to $350,000. Council members balked at the request during their Tuesday meeting, instructing city officials to provide more information about the scope of the work during a meeting next month.
The department also is facing renewed criticism for its handling of the Oct. 25 protests after a recently published internal report revealed that the officer in charge of the protests that night, Capt. Paul Figueroa, also heads up the Internal Affairs Division, responsible for investigating citizen complaints.
"That guaranteed that if there were complaints, he'd have a conflict of interest," Chanin said. "This was completely foreseeable and totally ill-advised."
Jordan said that Figueroa has not participated in the internal affairs investigations stemming from the complaints associated with those protests and that his absence was not a factor in police missing the deadline.
Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435.