Matthew Artz, 10/19/12
The city’s police union has reached a tentative accord with attorneys seeking a partial federal takeover of the department potentially keeping the union on the sidelines in the coming battle for control over Oakland’s police force.
The agreement, which signals a newfound alliance between the two parties, would prevent a court-appointed receiver with power over the department to alter the union’s contract or due process rights.
If U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson agrees to the stipulation filed late Friday, the union will drop its request to intervene in the receivership proceedings, said its attorney Rocky Lucia.
“This is on the face a strange alliance,” he said, “but I think it demonstrates that the plaintiffs’ attorneys understand how important it is to have stability in the police department.
Lucia said the union hasn’t determined its stance on a receiver for the department. Its position, he said, “will certainly be guided” on whether Henderson agrees to guarantee the officers’ collective bargaining rights.
Oakland risks becoming the first major U.S. city to lose significant control of its police force over its failure to fully implement reforms stemming from the decade-old Riders police corruption case.
Henderson, who oversaw the Riders case, has scheduled a Dec. 13 hearing to consider appointing a receiver with potentially broad powers including the authority to hire and fire Oakland’s police chief.
The city is expected to vigorously fight to keep control of the department.
John Burris, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the Riders case, said the accord with the police union would eliminate a potential obstacle to receivership. “They’re not the focal point of our motion,” he said. “(This) is really about how the department is being run by the command staff and the chief.”