Oakland police monitor praises Schaaf in time of ‘crisis’

The federal monitor who oversees the Oakland Police Department said in his latest report that the last few months are “perhaps the most trying time in OPD’s history” because of its sexual misconduct scandal.

In his 33rd report since he began monitoring the department in January 2010, retired Rochester, N.Y., Police Chief Robert Warshaw said:

“For over two months now, the local, national and international media have been full of reports of the sometimes salacious and often shocking details of this ever-burgeoning matter.”

Warshaw, who assumed the additional responsibility of being the Oakland Police Department’s compliance director in March 2014, didn’t mention the details of the investigation, but he was referring to claims made by a teenage sex worker, whose online alias is Celeste Guap, that she’s had sex with numerous Bay Area police officers, including several from Oakland.

Guap is the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher.

The sexual misconduct probe led to the resignation of Police Chief Sean Whent last month.

Two other temporary police chiefs have resigned since then and the department is now being overseen by City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, with Acting Assistant Chief David Downing heading its daily operations as Mayor Libby Schaaf conducts a national search for a new permanent chief.

Warshaw reports to U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who approved a 2003 settlement which requires Oakland police to implement 51 reforms in a variety of areas, including improved investigation of citizen complaints, better training of officers and increased field supervision.

The settlement resolved a lawsuit filed by 119 Oakland citizens who alleged that four officers known as the “Riders” beat them, made false arrests and planted evidence on them in 2000.

Three of the officers stood trial on criminal charges against them but they weren’t convicted of any charges during two lengthy trials.

Referring to the sexual misconduct probe in his report, which was posted on Henderson’s website late Thursday night, Warshaw said:

“It is not an understatement to say that these matters have consumed the OPD’s and city’s leadership; this is a crisis.”

He said that although the department’s interim leadership has been cooperative and communicative, “This is a major test of OPD’s resilience and capacity.”

Warshaw said:

“It remains to be seen if OPD – in the absence of a permanent chief and in a period of either actual or perceived instability – can sustain the gains it has made over the last several years with the NSA (settlement) reforms. … The events of the last several months called into serious question the integrity of the agency and some of its sworn leaders.”

But Warshaw praised Schaaf, writing:

“In the face of the most difficult of circumstances, Mayor Libby Schaaf has demonstrated important and needed leadership as she has worked to stabilize the environment in both the department and the community.”

Warshaw said Landreth has joined Schaaf:

“… in clearly articulating the expectations of the city’s oversight leaders as to what constitutes accepted behavior on the parts of those who enforce the laws. … We shall continue to closely scrutinize the efforts and outcomes associated with these new initiatives.”