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.