Some of the weapons seized by law enforcement during a 6-day crackdown in Oakland, California
A six-day joint operation between Oakland Police and nine other federal and local law enforcement agencies netted 138 arrested, seized 13 guns, two bulletproof vests and $32,000 in cash along with assorted narcotics and a stolen vehicle. Suspects were arrested on outstanding felony warrants including murder, attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, and narcotics trafficking, in addition to 14 sex offenders who were found in violation of their conditions of release.
Interim Police Chief Howard announced the conclusion of the sweep, which began on November 4th, this morning alongside U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag, Mayor Jean Quan, City Administrator Deanna Santana, U.S. Marshal Donald O’Keefe, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley and Ronald Brooks, director of the Northern California High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
The law enforcement collaboration was a direct response to the violence Oakland has suffered through this year, with almost 30 percent more murders this year than at this point in 2011. “There are two Oaklands,” said Mayor Quan. “One is very thriving and very successful, but we also have big pockets of poverty, our 100 toughest blocks,” where much of this six-day operation took place.
Below is an email exchange between Oakland Police Captain David Downing, the head of OPD’s Support Operations Division, and OPD Officer Charles O’Connor. The May 8 communication is essentially a clarification for rules of engagement (ROE) for OPD officers preparing for the verdict in the trial of Johannes Mehserle. Former Mayor Ron Dellums and members of the city council had participated in previous demonstrations following Mehserle’s shooting of unarmed BART passenger Oscar Grant on New Year’s Day, 2009. In a telephone conversation earlier today, Capt. Downing said the participation of city officials had caused “operational difficulties.”
Also noted is the practice of confiscating video and photo equipment found on arrestees. Capt. Downing referred to this as standard practice for arrests because footage or pictures taken by suspects can be “fantastic evidence” if they happen to document someone committing a crime.
Downing did not comment on his remarks concerning Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley except for qualifying his words as “personal opinions, and certainly not those of the police department as a whole.” (Text after the jump.)
Oakland Police process some of the 153 protesters arrested on Nov. 5
On Monday, the last batch of the 152 arrestees from the November 5th protests over Johannes Merhserle’s sentencing had their hearing in fornt of an Alameda County Superior Judge. The result? Not a single protester arrested that night received criminal or misdemeanor charges.
Oakland Police declared the breakaway march from Downtown Oakland to Fruitvale Plaza a “crime scene” after herding hundreds of marchers into a two-block area in the Eastlake neighborhood. Immediately after the area was declared a crime scene, police allowed members of the media to leave, and then summarily moved in to arrest those trapped in the “kettle.” At the time of the arrest, the rationale given by Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts was that officers had been struck by rocks, and one officer even had his gun ripped from his holster.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley appears to have done an about-face on her office’s transparency policies and is now withholding reports on officer-involved shootings that her office considered public eight months ago.
The document in question is a district attorney’s report – sometimes called a findings letter – that includes details of the incident, the account of separate reviews by police and district attorney’s investigators and a legal explanation of why the officer is not being charged with criminal conduct. These letters are issued only if the district attorney does not charge a police officer with a criminal offense – for example, Nancy O’Malley’s office filed a criminal complaint against Johannes Mehserle rather than issue a findings report.
On November 16, I submitted a request under the California Public Records Act for all the findings letters produced by the Alameda County DA for officer-involved shootings in 2010. The next day, I received a response indicating these records are exempt from disclosure under California Government Code section 6254(f). In plain English, O’Malley’s office considers these reports exempt from public disclosure because they are investigative reports prepared by a law enforcement agency.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley filed papers today in a Los Angeles superior court, asking that Johannes Mehserle be sent to prison for killing Oscar Grant. The full memorandum, which you can find here, makes the case. Sentencing is scheduled for November 5, when the judge will presumably also hear a request for a new trial by Mehserle. O’Malley, in her filing, says that Mehserle deserves time in state prison because:
Six years ago, the State Department reported the sale and purchase of children for sex is the second largest industry in the United States, and will surpass the trade in illegal weapons by 2014. An estimated 244,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked every year.
The Bay Area is both a source of and destination for trafficked children. “Johns” can solicit underage girls in person on prostitution “tracks” such as San Pablo Avenue or East 14th Street in Oakland or online through websites like Craigslist. The Internet in particular has changed the face of prostitution. Since 2006, the Alameda County District Attorney has charged 156 individuals with felony trafficking offenses and convicted 111. By contrast, from 2001 through 2005, the same office charged 87 people and convicted 67 of trafficking offenses.
In almost all of these cases, says Deputy District Attorney Sharmin Bock, there is a link to the internet. “The same pimp who would have been out there driving around in a Cadillac, picking up girls twenty years ago now doesn’t have to leave his living room,” Bock said.
There might be some bright news ahead for Bock. On Tuesday, her Human Exploitation and Trafficking Unit (HEAT) was selected as one of four recipients of a $300,000 U.S. Justice Department grant. The funds will go towards a coordinator for Bay Area law enforcement around the issue of trafficked minors and will help fund a 2012 conference on the subject. Continue reading