OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A former Oakland city leader is questioning the role of the federal monitor overseeing the Oakland Police Department. A representative of a group committed to holding police accountable for their actions takes a different view.
This comes in the wake of Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong being placed on-leave as part of a misconduct investigation.
“I found that to be really interesting. Judge Orrick said, ‘I am so profoundly disappointed. Each time we’re just about to get OPD in compliance something happens,'” said former Oakland city councilmember, Lynette Gibson McElhaney.
That something, according to McElhaney, is the federal monitor overseeing the Oakland Police Department, Robert Warshaw, who hired an outside law firm to investigate how OPD handled a pair of incidents involving misconduct of an Oakland police sergeant. The problem McElhaney says, is Warshaw has a financial conflict of interest to keep his oversight role at OPD.
“There has been 10, 12, 13 chiefs, three mayors, how many successive city councils, and he is being paid a million dollars and has the trust of the court to ensure that Oakland’s systems are in place to bring us a constitutionally sound high-performance team. Yet, every time we are about to come out from underneath his contract, suddenly there is a bombshell,” said McElhany.
Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao placed Chief LeRonne Armstrong on administrative leave while she says she awaits all of the information in the matter. However, the mayor has given no indication that the federal monitor’s role is under any scrutiny by her administration.
“Yes! I can understand that people might be skeptical, but the reality is every time the police get close to being relieved from this oversight, some scandal occurs,” said Millie Cleveland with the Coalition for Police Accountability.
Cleveland is on the steering committee for the Coalitition for Police Accountability in Oakland. She says the coalition does not view Warshaw as the issue here.
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“You have cover-ups that keep coming apparent, so, I don’t think it’s Warshaw,” said Cleveland. “I don’t think it’s the monitor that’s creating the problem. It’s the misconduct of the police department.”
Now that Warshaw’s motives have been called into question by some in the public, McElhaney says something should be done to remove all doubt.
“But I really wonder if it might have been better for the counsel and the mayor to place us in a complete consent decree with the Department of Justice,” said McElhaney, “where at least we have another public entity with public accountability systems in place to monitor the progress of this department.”