Gallo Backs Community Call for Police Accountability

Jun 7, 2014

Posted in CommunityPolice-Public Safety

By Ken Epstein

Councilmember Noel Gallo is pushing the City Council to consider placing a charter amendment on the November ballot. The measure would create a public safety oversight commission to assume most of the authority over the police department, including discipline of officers, currently in the hands of the City Administrator’s office.

“There are some legitimate concerns here. – (Many people) in Oakland are talking about how they lack the trust in the City Council to even listen to and talk about their concerns,” said Gallo, speaking Thursday to the members of the council’s Rules Committee, which puts items on council agendas.

Gallo is chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee.

Noel Gallo

The Rules Committee agreed Thursday to put the item on the June 24 Public Safety Committee meeting agenda only as informational item, which means it could not be passed at Public Safety and sent to the full council.

Councilmember Dan Kalb asked for the matter to be discussed again at next Thursday, Rules Committee meeting, indicating he would support Gallo’s motion, which would allow for possible action on the motion.

Councilmember Larry Reid says he opposes allowing the issue to go to the full council, and Councilmember Libby Schaaf appears to be reluctant.

Oakland Police Officers Association President Barry Donelan attended the meeting but declined to comment.

If it makes the ballot and passes, the oversight commission will combine the staff and responsibilities of the currently existing Citizens’ Police Review Board and the Community Policing Advisory Board. By combining the staff of existing boards, the new commission would not require additional funds.

To be on the November ballot, the City Council must vote in favor of putting the measure on the ballot before the council breaks in August for its regular summer recess.

The proposal is supported by the Coalition of Police Accountability, which includes the Oakland-Berkeley chapter of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), the Ella Baker Center, the Mentoring Center, Oakland NAACP, People United for a Better Life in Oakland (PUEBLO), Chair of the Measure Y Oversight Committee Jose Dorado, as well an mayoral candidates Dan Siegel and Jason “Shake” Anderson.

Rashidah Grinage, PUEBLO’s executive director, spoke on behalf of the Coalition for Police Accountability. “If it’s just an information item, it dies right there,” she said. “If it doesn’t go to the council now, it will not make it to the ballot” until 2016.

Barry Donelan, Oakland Police Officers Association