General Crime

* Oakland Police SWAT Team Leader Capt. Edward Tracey Defends His Actions the Day Four Officers Were Killed

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The head of the Oakland Police Department’s SWAT team today defended his actions in a March 21 incident in which four officers were shot and killed by a wanted parolee. Speaking at a news conference at which Acting Police Chief Howard Jordan and other officials discussed the incident, Capt. Edward Tracey said he went to Highland Hospital in Oakland instead of to an apartment where parolee Lovelle Mixon was holed up because Mixon’s whereabouts hadn’t been established and it wasn’t initially determined that the SWAT team was needed. “I made a clear decision and I stand behind it,” Tracey said. Tracey said he wanted “an opportunity to set the record straight” following news reports that the SWAT team’s rank-and-file members were upset with the way he handled the incident. He told reporters, “Unfortunately, you’ve been given inaccurate information by sources who’ve been protected by anonymity.” According to Oakland police, Mixon shot and killed Sgt. Mark Dunakin and Officer John Hege when they made a traffic stop on him at 74th Avenue and MacArthur Boulevard. Mixon then fled to his sister’s apartment about a block away at 2755 74th Ave. and killed Sgts. Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai when they and other members of the SWAT team entered the apartment, police said. Mixon was eventually shot and killed by other officers. Tracey said he asked to be reassigned after the incident, saying, “I thought it was best to step aside and take away any distractions.”. But Jordan said he denied Tracey’s request, saying he wanted to keep Tracey in charge of the SWAT team. Jordan said that as head of the Special Operations Division, Tracey also has many other duties, including overseeing the department’s traffic unit. Jordan said the Police Department has “a paramilitary structure” and reassigning Tracey would have disrupted the department’s command structure. Tracey declined to comment on reports that SWAT team members had taken a vote of no confidence in him. He said, “A lot of things were talked about” but said he didn’t want to comment on the specifics out of respect for the privacy of his team members. Tracey said he has never shied away from dangerous duties as head of the SWAT team and that he believes his track record has earned the respect of team members. He also said the SWAT team “has multiple commanders” and that other officials wound up giving directions that day. Jordan said two investigations into the incident are still under way and won’t be completed for some time. He declined to say when they will be completed and when their conclusions will be released to the news media and the public. Jordan said one of the investigations is a criminal investigation being conducted by the department. He said the other is a board of inquiry that includes members of the department as well as outside experts. Jordan said the purpose of the board of inquiry is to see if there are any lessons to be learned from the incident for the entire law enforcement community, not just the Oakland Police Department. Jordan said the purpose will be to see if there are “key lessons that may save the lives of other officers.” Oakland’s SWAT team was temporarily removed from action after the March 21 incident because Romans and Sakai were unit leaders and new leaders had to be trained. The Alameda County Sheriff’s SWAT detail handled Oakland’s SWAT calls for more than two months, but Jordan said Oakland’s SWAT team went back into operation last week and conducted a successful raid last Friday during which large quantities of marijuana and firearms were recovered from suspected drug gang members.

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1 Comment

  • I’m glad Ed Tracey is finally vendicated. Those incompetent cops who are now in the hot seat were trying to take him down with them.
    I’m glad the truth prevailed. Ed Tracey was at the hospital because 2 of his men died. It’s not like he was out partying with prostitutes and using drugs.

    Ed Tracey is a good man and police officer.