Don Link: The escalating mess at OPD

Don Link originally posted this essay on the OPD listserv. I don’t think the audiences for this blog and the listservs overlap all that much, so I thought it would benefit my readers to see Link’s perspective. He has kindly given me permission to reprint his writing here. I added the links myself. Don Link is the former Chair of Oakland’s Community Policing Advisory Board, on which he served for 11 years before his resignation in 2008. – V Smoothe.

Hannah James posted two important pieces in the press on the internal mess in OPD. These follow others by the Chauncey Bailey project regarding OPD’s handling of both the investigation and the raid of the Bakery headquarters to stave off anticipated killings. Chief Tucker has not been candid or effective in either matter.

Tucker is fond of stating that accountability is foremost in police work, YET, that accountability has always stopped at the officer and Sergeant level during Tucker’s reign at OPD, and has never gone on to the Captain, Deputy Chief, or Chief level. Does anyone remember DC Pete Dunbar’s demotion to Captain during the last year of Chief Word’s administration? As I understood the matter then, he was disciplined for not having put in motion the compliance effort with the Negotiated Settlement Agreement that ended the Rider’s Case. The demotion, while painful to those who knew and worked with Dunbar, was accepted as fair, and he sucked in the responsibility in a very gracious and healing statement accepting the demotion: a class act.

In the Tucker era, a different set of rules seems to apply. Those at the lowest rank have the highest and most scrutinized level of accountability; those in the upper ranks, little or none at all. The Chief himself? He can lie to the press, change his story once or twice with contradictory answers, and not feel accountable (timing of the raid on the Black Muslim Bakery: first, not delayed at all; when faced with the facts and statements by others in OPD, delayed because DC Kozicki and Capt. Ed Tracey, who were on camping trips, wanted to be present, and it was delayed 2 days, during which C. Bailey was assassinated). Continuance of Derwin Longmire in Homicide after the revelations of his handling of the investigation and apparent protection of Bey IV; continuance of Longmire’s superior E. Joyner in place; and continuance of J. Loman, Joyner’s superior in place, and then elevating him to Deputy Chief, a position that few in OPD and few outside OPD who know its personnel’s strengths and weaknesses applauded. The person in charge of the Bureau of Investigations during this period was Assistant Chief Howard Jordan, who was elevated from Captain to Ass’t Chief, again as evidence of Tucker’s idea of accountability for upper level commanders in OPD. Jordan is a nice guy, liked by his colleagues, but not a heavy-weight in the Department and without a notable track record of stellar accomplishments. Why is Jordan in place while the investigation of his subordinates in the Bureau of Investigations continue for their questionable handling of one of the most important criminal cases in Oakland in the last several decades? The same for Loman, who now has a sexual harassment charge being investigated.

The house of cards Tucker has created is trembling and threatening to crash. Why hasn’t the Mayor sacked him or called him on the carpet for explanations? Violent crimes continue to escalate, and will during the economic tsunami we are entering. Tucker’s record smells like a compost pile and continues to get worse with every newspaper revelation. On Monday, Jan. 12, the Oakland Tribune ran an editorial on the continuing and escalating troubles in OPD which listed the Valladon pay increase padding, the sexual harassment problems of Loman, the apparent mishandling of the Chauncey Bailey investigation, and the delayed raid on the Black Muslim Bakery. The editorial ends with the judgment that there “…is no excuse for the embarrassing level of management dysfunction” at OPD.

Lawrence Green’s charges are the last straw for me. I have worked with him closely when he was in charge of PSA 2. He is an energetic, creative, mentoring police commander. His PSOs were among the very best, and he had a lot of them that fit that description. His leadership of PSA 2 saved community policing in Oakland at a time that most of its personnel were reassigned. Green was responsible for creating the PSA yahoo groups by pioneering in PSA 2 and doing such a superb job of connecting citizens and OPD at a time of diminished resources that Chief Word ordered the other PSAs to develop yahoo groups of their own. Green pioneered in publishing crime statistics on the yahoo group, something that was not done and was viewed with suspicion or outright anger by some of the other commanders in OPD not accustomed to or comfortable with sharing with the public. The connection of citizens involved in community policing, community improvement, public safety across Oakland today is an outgrowth of Green’s pioneering work in PSA 2. He absolutely understands and trusts the cp partnership of engaged citizens and the police department.

Contrast this with Chief Tucker and his infamous statement that he was worried about cp officers “going native” by working too closely with the citizens in their beats. This was followed by putting cp resources in the hands of Dave Kozicki who immediately transformed them into a tactical squad to be moved around the city to deal with hot spots and special situations. Kozicki also put a deep chill on the cp partnership, letting it be known that police officers were not to partner too closely or share any details of police operations, duty orders, special assignments, activities away from the assigned beat, etc., or serious consequences to that officer’s career would follow.

Not only has Tucker done his best to deconstruct community policing, he has also failed to control or improve public safety in Oakland. Since he took charge of OPD, crime has increased exponentially, especially violent crime. He has no regard for beat integrity, which he regards as “old fashioned” policing, and likewise for cp which is based on beat integrity and a genuine sense of ownership of the beat and its situations. A recent Chip Johnson article on Richmond’s success at driving down crime highlighted the Richmond Chief’s focus on keeping police resources in their beats and knowing the people, situations, problems. Sounds like community policing and the practice that Tucker has repudiated again and again both orally and in the practices of OPD.

Dellums says that he absolutely supports community policing, yet supports a Chief who not only does not, but is actively hostile to its tenets and structural needs. Tucker ought to be let go because of his hostility to cp and his utterly incompetent management of OPD and public safety in Oakland. One scandal after another comes to light, finally prompting the Oakland Tribune (no liberal venue) to criticize the whole management of OPD.

Think of it: Tucker at the helm with no experience in urban policing; Ass’t Chief Jordan with no major accomplishments or strengths and the person in charge when the Chauncey Bailey investigation foul-up, the delayed raid on the Black Muslim Bakery, and the sexual harassment charges against DC Loman occurred; (promoted by Tucker, Loman, too) DC Loman in place without the credentials or the accomplishments to deserve that position, and, now, charges against him.

DC Kozicki, a tactical expert and motorcycle fanatic running Patrol and most of the police department personnel, dedicated to tactical deployment, has effectively emasculated community policing by disconnecting PSOs from the citizens, and by advocating tactical deployments that take PSOs out of their beats frequently.

Tucker and his carefully-chosen top management assistants mentioned here don’t measure up to the challenges. Has violent crime decreased? No. Is OPD better managed in the sense that homicides are solved, burglaries are reduced, robberies of citizens on the streets and in restaurants are reduced, car break-ins, car-jackings, shootings, and the like? No.

Has Tucker performed acceptably?

Look to Richmond to the North and San Jose to the South for answers. Tucker has not performed to the D-Minus level. That dog can’t hunt and needs to be retired–now before he does any further damage.

14 thoughts on “Don Link: The escalating mess at OPD

  1. Mike Spencer

    This piece makes another compelling argument that something is drastically wrong at OPD. It was likely written before the announcement that 11 officers (9 officers and 2 sergeants) would be fired for lying to get search warrants. (Another doozy in the coverage of the search warrants issue was an officer telling a judge that he had lied about an informant revealing the location of a gun.) Add it up and it’s a picture of appalling management and leadership: The undercover officer shot and killed by patrol officers, the officer sexually harassing Aisan woman during stops, the Riders, Chauncey Bailey fiasco, four officers injured when patrol cars collide, etc. These facts suggest what this article states, that there is no leadership or accountability from on-high. There are undoubtedly some great and dedicated officers, but as residents we deserve better. Why give more money to a departtment that is flailing?

  2. ConcernedOakFF

    The worst part of all of this negative press, is that the 90%+ of the OPD that are coming to work and doing above and beyond the call of duty are being held responsible and accountable for the missteps of the few. My friends that are in the PD have stated how much more difficult it is just to do basic patrol work over the last year or so (not to mention after the BART shooting). They are spit on, cursed at, flipped off EVERY DAY. ALL of them have stated that a clean sweep of the top level of management is needed to restore public trust and allow them to do the jobs that they are payed for.

  3. Born in Oakland

    I wrote my councilperson a couple of weeks ago “it is time for Tucker to leave” and invite others to do the same if you think that is what is needed.

  4. len raphael

    astounding that Tucker can say the responsibility for the alleged search warrant misconduct stopped at the seargent level. abu ghraib pentagon mentality, Oakland style.

    Tucker threw as many line people to the wolves as he could spare to continue pulling the wool over Judge Henderson’s eyes, without hurting the brass.

    More astounding that so many residents are so ready to believe that OPD cop misbehavior is caused by “bad apples” not by bad leadership. so many residents have such a low opinion of cops, they’ll believe anything bad about them, especially when it’s said by the chief of police.

  5. Max Allstadt

    Hey, remember how they accidentally over-hired beyond authorized strength? Exactly how much closer are we to even? Coincidence?

  6. len raphael

    a more appropriate way to describe Tucker’s putting all the blame on street cops for illegal search warrants is throwing people overboard to lighten a sinking ship.

    the report about the allegations against the head of IA is one more tear in the Tucker hot air balloon. How many more will it take for Dellums to fire him?

  7. Rev Steve Best

    Community Policing:

    Community Policing is a valuable resource in motivating neighborhood residents to cooperate with police in reducing crime. Although it is not a cure-all, community policing can have a positive impact by establishing a volunteer police chaplain program (at little of no cost to the PD). Assigning volunteer police chaplains to specific police sectors where their respective congregations are located accomplishes three purposes. 1) Clergy are known in the community and are privy to issues in their specific neighborhood. 2) A PD has an additional and respected voice in neighborhoods. 3) Parental control of neighborhood youth is enhanced. PD chaplains riding with police officers send a message to the community that the faith community is a player in reducing crime and public nuisances. “Stories of the Street: Images of the Human Condition” demonstrates the significant contribution volunteer police chaplains make in serving specific neighborhoods. Ref: http://www.strategicbookpublishing.com/StoriesOfTheStreet.html
    Volunteer Police Chaplain Steve Best, (Ret.)

  8. Navigator

    The Oakland Police Department is a corrupt, incompetent, ineffective, and archaic agency, which harms the city of Oakland in countless ways. Let me list a few of the problems which plague the Oakland Police Department. We have incompetent crowd control, overtime mismanagement, corrupt investigations, police brutality, expensive misconduct lawsuits, incalculable damage done to Oakland’s reputation by failing to control crowds during demonstrations along with controlling destructive “sideshows.”

    Now, another scandal has just come to light. Apparently, a Captain for the Department abused a suspect in custody, by joining in a beating which involved kicks to the ribs, which eventually led to the man’s death months later.

    This is like Barney Fife leading the Keystone Cops. This Department needs to be dismantled from the top down and reorganized into a professional 21st Century crime fighting agency with the interests of the good citizens of Oakland at the forefront. Enough of the corruption, the incompetence, and the self-serving attitudes.

  9. len raphael

    the tribune Chauncey Bailey team made an odd misstatement referring to the riders’ case as an example of “corruption” . allegations of evidence planting, brutality yes but don’t recall any allegations of corruption in that.

  10. shirley enomoto

    i suggest the residents start a petition. i’ll be happy to sign although i live in emeryville, to support lt. green. my daughter lived in a troubled neighborhood and i appreciated and used the yahoo group for north oakland that lt. green started. furthermore, every email i sent him resulted in a reply within 24 hours.
    he is the most caring police officer i have ever met.

  11. len raphael

    If the allegations against the head of IA prove accurate, all of the decisions made by IA since he was it’s head have to be reviewed, regardless of whether they went for or against a particular cop.

    At least one decision that went against a young cop, involves a cop who was accused of lying by his superiors as to whether he submitted a single page paper report. considering how bad the city’s record keeping is by it’s own admission, firing a cop for allegedly not filing a report is nuts.

  12. len raphael

    cross post from posts today on yahoo opd community group:

    Susan Montauk post:

    Re: [OPD] Claudia Albano

    This makes me very angry. I just sent this e-mail to the mayor and will send it to the newspapers:

    To His Honor, Mayor Dellums:
    I am writing in protest of the firing of Claudia Albano. I can’t think of one good reason to let go of an individual who has worked so hard to promote community policing. If you are truly committed to improving the safety of this city as you professed in your State of the City Address Monday night then you should understand that Claudia has done more than any other individual to involve Oakland citizens in their own safety and encourage them to work with their beat officers. Her efforts have brought hundreds of new Oakland blocks into the neighborhood watch system. Your action will set back Community Policing to before the dark ages of the 90s–is that what you want for Oakland and for your legacy?

    Susan Montauk
    Boyd Avenue Neighborhood Watch
    Former Chair NCPC12Y/13X
    ———–
    Don Link post:
    “I just heard and confirmed that Neighborhood Services Manager Claudia
    Albano has been fired by the Dellums administration. Her last day
    will be Friday.

    Firm reasons were not given, but some feel that it has to do with the
    effort to unify the City Administrators and Mayors offices, something
    that was recommended in the Bobb report, and moreover, to put someone
    from the Mayor’s team in Claudia’s position.

    As someone who has worked on the creation of her position and worked
    with her closely over the years, I was stunned by the news. I know of
    no Oakland public servant more energetic, dedicated, and effective
    than Claudia. Her job was her life, and the results of her efforts
    testimony to her restless need to change things for the better.

    Don Link, PSA 2″

  13. len raphael

    update to the above crosspost on the firing and unfiring? of Claudia Albano:

    Since we heard about Claudia’s termination of employment, there have
    been lots of rumors, speculation, and changing of positions. Some of
    the facts we know:

    First, she was asked to sign an agreement to vacate her office by the
    end of Jan 30, 2009, and was stunned by the demand. There was no
    preparation or lead-in to the demand. It was made and delivered.

    Second, she was told that there would be a new Public Safety
    Coordinator for Oakland, Dorlista Reed, who would be assuming her
    duties. Claudia knows Dorlista and worked with her in Oakland
    during the 1960s and 70s. She lunched with her a week ago and
    discussed the Public Safety Coordinator position.

    Third, Claudia was not informed at that time that there was a Deputy
    PSC position nor encouraged to apply for it.

    Fourth, the Mayor’s Office, through a citizen with close connections
    to the Mayor, announced at a public meeting that the termination of
    employment was a clerical error, and there was an intention to
    encourage her apply for the Deputy PSC position. A meeting was to be
    scheduled to discuss that position.

    Fifth, that meeting was confirmed scheduled for Fri. 1/30 at 2 pm
    AFTER Claudia called the Mayor’s office to see if she was expected to
    attend a meeting that she had not been informed about.

    Sixth, today, Claudia is in limbo: she is required to vacate her
    office by 5 pm Friday according to the termination document she
    signed. She has a meeting at 2 pm Friday to discuss possible
    continued employment, for which the outcome is not clear.

    ASSESSMENT: this was not well-handled, and the outcome is not
    clear. Citizens who appreciate Claudia’s improvement of neighborhood
    services, neighborhood watch, and Neighborhood Services Coordinators’
    performance should contact both the Mayor’s Office and their Council
    member’s office to weigh in on the issue. This appears to be a
    supremely botched situation with no party benefiting in the process.

    Worst case, this is an attempt to consolidate department heads. One
    is new with new responsibilities to coordinate police, fire, and
    public works activities that relate to public safety; the other is
    established to coordinate neighborhood organizing and police
    community services to the neighborhoods of Oakland. To suggest that
    one person can do both is to replace 3 department heads with one. The
    fair-minded question to Oakland citizens who will have to pay for
    this is whether the new person new to the job from outside Oakland
    will be able to do this well, effectively, at all?

    Claudia’s termination was accompanied by her right hand assistant’s
    (Felicia Verdin) reassignment to Community and Economic Development
    to an as-yet undefined position. Felicia is incredibly capable and
    dedicated. Neighborhood Watch has grown from between 85 and 100 when
    she started to 530 today. NW started in Oakland in 1967 and has been
    copied by the nation. It is smart, it is effective, it is
    inexpensive. We have the right to be proud and stand tall while all
    of the negative publicity about Oakland swirls around us. Should
    Felicia have been reassigned given her successes and passions for the
    work?

    Success is usually praised and compensated. In the case of Claudia
    and Felicia, it has been punished. Does the Mayor’s office have any
    idea of what is going on on the ground? The problem is not in the
    troops in Oakland; it is in their leadership and their disconnection
    from the actions on the ground. Satellite vision does not work for
    managing people doing the day-to-day work that keeps the city and
    neighborhoods functioning.

    My take on the situation: when things are tough, we should not
    jettison the best of the best. Claudia qualifies, so does Felicia.

    Calls or e-mails to the Mayor and City Council members are needed.

    Don Link PSA 2

    If we sacrifice our best and maintain the rest in our times of
    cutbacks, we destroy the present and joopardize the future of our city.

    Neighborhood Services are delivering real value to the city: they are
    building community capacity for day-to-day events, and, more
    important, capacity for crises and catastrophes. Organized
    neighborhoods are the basic structure of successful cities.
    Neighborhood Services are creating them.

    A new Public Safety Coordinator tasked with managing the Neighborhood
    Services Division, coordinating the Police Dept. , the Fire Dept,
    CORE, Public Works, and other divisions of city government involved
    with public safety cannot be one person. Today, one normal person
    could not manage the NSD, yet one not-normal person does and thrives.
    Neighborhood Services is the Golden Goose in Oakland. It a’int broke,
    doesn’t need fixing; leave it alone and let it continue laying the
    golden eggs.
    Task the new

  14. Joanna/ShopGirl

    Wholy cow! Claudia Albano was one of the few people I could call with a problem, especially when the NSC couldn’t/wouldn’t handle something. She was always polite, and always took the time to explain her decisions. You get someone with a brain and forward thinking within the City and they just can’t handle it.

    Rediculous!!!!

    I didn’t go to the local NCPC meeting last night because I feel like they’re a waste of time. Our NSC doesn’t get involved with our neighborhood and once we lost Sandra Sanders-West as our NSC, I decided not to waste any more time.

    I have to say that every day I feel more and more like Oakland is a lost cause. We can all only do so much. But hey, don’t let my negative feelings about what’s going on affect you!

    Sometimes you have to step back for a while and see if the interest rekindles. I’m hoping that all is not lost.