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A court-appointed monitor has told a federal judge that the Oakland Police Department has shown a disturbing decline in progress in carrying out reforms mandated in the settlement of a 12-year-old civil rights lawsuit. Independent monitor Robert Warshaw told U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson in a filing on Monday, “We are dismayed by the level of compliance reflected in this report, as should be the department and the city of Oakland.” Warshaw wrote that the department appears to have “stubborn resistance to compliance with an agreement made long ago: an agreement that simply enumerates concepts common in police agencies across the country.” The agreement, reached in 2003, was part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by 119 citizens in 2000 alleging that four officers known as the “Riders” beat them, made false arrests and planted phony evidence between 1996 and 2000.
Henderson is supervising the settlement and appointed Warshaw, a retired Rochester, N.Y., police chief, as monitor in January 2010. Henderson is due to hold a hearing on Dec. 13 on a request by the plaintiffs that he appoint a receiver to take over partial control of the department because of the slow pace of reforms. The settlement called for 51 reforms, including increased field supervision of police officers, better training, and improved investigation of citizen complaints. The deadline for completing the changes was originally 2008. Warshaw said in the quarterly report submitted Monday that of the remaining 22 reforms, the department is in compliance with 12, in partial compliance with seven, and not in compliance with one. Compliance with two other reforms has been deferred. The compliance has fallen behind what was shown in the previous report, he said. He said the problem appears to be not a lack of equipment or personnel, but rather a “seeming lack of commitment to the core principles that are at the foundation” of the agreement. A spokeswoman for the city was not immediately available for comment.
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