Council Rushes to Approve Five-Year Police Agreement
Dec 15, 2018
APTP activist James Burch tells City Council to stop putting the Oakland Police Officers Association’s needs above those of the community at Tuesday’s meeting. Photo by Zack Haber.
By Zack Haber At a meeting that lasted over eight hours, continuing from Tuesday evening until 2 a.m. Wednesday morning, community members and activists from the Anti Police-Terror Project, the Coalition for Police Accountability, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) and the First Congregational Church of Oakland criticized a proposed new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Officers Association.
The new MOU grants officers a 12.5 percent salary increase spread over five years.
All council members voted in favor of the MOU except Rebecca Kaplan, who voted no. Noel Gallo abstained, and Desley Brooks was absent.
James Burch, an activist with the Anti Police-Terror Project, wanted the council to delay the vote to seek input from the community.
“In crafting a new MOU, the City Council is more concerned with their relationship with the Oakland Police Officers Association than they are with the wants and needs of the people of Oakland,” he said.
Burch said the timing of the vote shows the council does not respect the will of Oakland residents. The current OPOA agreement does not expire for over six months, leaving plenty of time to seek the views of the police commission and other city residents.
By settling the agreement early, the council and the administration locked up wages and rules governing the police before recently elected City Councilmembers Nikki Fortunato Bas, Loren Taylor and Sheng Thao take office.
“Nikki Fortunato Bas was voted in over Abel Gullén because Gullén was being held accountable for his failure to work with community over the last several years,” Burch said. “Bas has promised to work with community, and I believe her.” But Oakland’s newly elected council members will not have a say in Oakland’s MOU with its police union.
Rashidah Grinage, a member of the Coalition for Police Accountability, was also concerned with the rush to vote on the agreement. “The whole thing was a stealth attack,” Grinage said. “We had no advance knowledge that this was on the agenda, so we had no time to organize around it.”
Grinage said parts of the MOU were overlooked like the overtime budget, how officers are promoted and oversight on police discipline is handled. She said the newly elected Council members might have wanted to work with Oakland residents to change the language in the MOU before voting on it.