Judge Thelton Henderson on Thursday gave the city until January to make reforms required in a settlement to a police corruption lawsuit but stopped short of following through on a threat to put the Oakland Police Department under federal control.
Attorney Jim Chanin, one of two lawyers who filed the police misconduct suit arising from the Riders misconduct case, said the pressure is still clearly high.
"I don't think this is going to go on much longer," Chanin said. "The mayor won't have the time her predecessors did. I think the judge sees her speaking in good faith, but they're going to really have to do something and do it soon."
Henderson has threatened to put the department under federal control and force it to complete the reforms it agreed to in 2003 in settling the Riders case, which involved allegations that rogue officers were beating and framing Oakland residents. Almost nine years later, the department has complied with only 32 of the 51 reform tasks, and Henderson said he sees "an attitude, a culture of resistance, that still retains a healthy heartbeat within the department."
"This is no longer business as usual, and I'm not interested in listening to promises about how things are going to be," Henderson said. "It's clear to me that we need a change (in) how things are being done."
He said evidence shows that OPD "is behind the times, and that the negotiated reforms are not rocket science and are achievable. We meet today to discuss a city that has still not achieved full compliance with the reforms proposed by its own experts nearly a decade ago."
Henderson's frustration appeared to soften when Mayor Jean Quan, who took office in January, addressed the court.
"I haven't been here eight years," Quan said. "I've been here eight months. But I've tried to be more actively involved than past mayors."
She has met with the federal monitors and the police chief in a joint meeting and she said her own staff is constantly involved and attends every related meeting.
"I'm pretty clear that I'm the client here. I'm the person responsible to you, ultimately," Quan told the judge. "I'm committed as mayor to end this so you can go on and we can go on."
When she finished, Henderson gave a subtle smile and said, "Thank you for those comments and that commitment. I'm encouraged by that."