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Oakland Capt Ron Davis appointed East Palo Alto chief
Posted on Thu, May. 12, 2005 Oakland captain top pick for chief FAVORITE TO LEAD EAST P.A.'S FORCE CALLED A REFORMER By Elise Ackerman Mercury News The search for a new chief for the troubled East Palo Alto Police Department apparently has narrowed to one man: an Oakland captain with a national reputation as a reformer. The finalist, Oakland police Capt. Ronald Davis, 41, declined an interview request, saying it was premature. Assistant City Manager ML Gordon confirmed the city had selected one of five finalists to undergo a background check, psychological testing and a physical exam. Gordon would not confirm the candidate's name. But two people close to the search indicated Davis was the choice. Long search A small city with a rising crime rate, East Palo Alto has been searching for someone to command its 37-officer force since former Chief Wesley Bowling announced his retirement in June. Shortly before Bowling left, a civil grand jury rapped the chief for hiring officers of questionable quality and failing to consistently enforce department policies. According to the civil grand jury's report, East Palo Alto lacked ``an experienced or skilled management staff'' and failed to discipline officers in a ``consistent and timely manner.'' In February, two officers were indicted for allegedly beating a man who tried to sell them drugs while they were off duty. With the accused officers on leave, along with a whistle-blower who reported the incident, the department is struggling to patrol the streets. Unfilled positions have reduced the force to three-quarters of its intended size. Meanwhile, another officer is under investigation for possible perjury, and violent crime is on the upswing. Interim Chief Steve Belcher last week told the city council: ``There are not enough hours in the day to follow up on all the crimes that are being committed.'' Tackling East Palo Alto's challenges is a job only an idealist -- or an officer like Davis -- would want, law enforcement experts say. A 20-year veteran of the Oakland department, Davis currently serves as inspector general. He has overseen reforms made in response to a lawsuit brought by more than 100 people who claimed they were abused by a group of ex-police officers called the Riders. `Progressive thinker' ``I find him one of the more progressive thinkers about police work nationwide,'' said attorney John Burris, who represented the plaintiffs in the Riders case and worked closely with Davis to implement the city's nearly $11 million settlement. Burris, who is representing Calvin Brooks, the alleged drug dealer who says he was beaten by off-duty East Palo Alto officers last August, said Davis would bring the kind of ``clear thinking, leadership and philosophy of best practices'' that East Palo Alto needs to win back the trust of the community. A prominent critic of racial profiling, Davis has given diversity training to police departments around the country and helped monitor police reforms in Detroit and Washington, D.C. ``I think he is excellent,'' said Mel Harris, a resident who served on the civil grand jury and, more recently, on a citizens' panel that interviewed candidates for chief. EAST PALO ALTO Chief's job lures Oakland captain - Dave Murphy Wednesday, May 18, 2005 Ron Davis, a captain with the Oakland Police Department, has been hired as the police chief in East Palo Alto. East Palo Alto City Manager Alvin James said that the hiring of Davis, who has been with Oakland's department nearly 20 years, came after a 7-month search. The chief is due to take over the 64-member department May 31. Davis, Oakland's inspector general who headed the city's racial profiling task force, will be expected to analyze East Palo Alto's department and reform the organization, James said. Page B - 4 URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi? file=/c/a/2005/05/18/BABADIGEST4.DTL Upswing in police officer violations By: . . Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder Originally posted 5/25/2005 Michael Friedman, CRA Board Chair Retha Dowells, Northside CRA Boardmember Julian Johnson, Northside CRA Boardmember and Robert Velez, Northside CRA Boardmember Contributing Writers Contacts of ours within the Hennepin County Public Defender's office=20 have reported that there has been a major upswing in constitutional=20 violations of peoples' rights by Minneapolis police over the last=20 month. We also have personally witnessed, and received reports about,=20 Minneapolis police officials actively discouraging residents from=20 using the CRA to investigate complaints, in the process making all=20 sorts of self-serving negative remarks about CRA's fairness and=20 investigation quality. A coincidence? A critical benefit of the CRA is that it offers a process to address=20 violations of constitutional rights that do not involve enough=20 damages for a civil rights lawyer to want to file a lawsuit. (Public=20 Defenders can only use the violation to suppress evidence and maybe=20 get the charge dismissed. And this assumes a charge was filed at all,=20 which is not necessarily the case in many constitutional rights=20 violations.) In the last two years, the CRA has sustained several complaints for=20 inappropriate arrests, searches, or detentions =97 often for=20 circumstances some Spokesman-Recorder columnists have referred to=20 as 'Walking While Black.' To find misconduct in such instances is not=20 difficult, because police policies and training generally follow from=20 court decisions that define what police can and cannot do; that is,=20 the CRA doesn't resort to our own opinion, but holds police=20 accountable to knowing the law about such critical matters as an=20 individual's rights. The response from the police chief and his management team has been=20 disappointing to say the least. Not a single case of rights=20 violations has led to officer discipline, although a few have been=20 referred for training. In one case in which a young Black male was handcuffed, searched, and=20 placed in the back of a squad car without appropriate cause, a=20 precinct commander wrote in the discipline review how all the legal=20 arguments (in the CRA summary) for why this was misconduct=20 represented what was wrong with the CRA. As if basing our review of=20 police work on the law was a bad thing! This attitude of disdain for reviews of police work done outside=20 police control, whether by courts, lawyers, or CRA staff or board, is=20 something we have observed at all levels of the department, and is at=20 the heart of current police attempts to undercut the CRA. Within the city as a whole, the police department is able to use the=20 legitimate safety fears of Northside residents, and others, to=20 promote more aggressive police practices. Ultimately, this same fear=20 could be used to strip or diminish the review power granted to the=20 CRA. But communities of color might remember how the Code for program was=20 also sold in a climate of fear as benefiting first and foremost the=20 neighborhoods receiving saturated police coverage =97 and what=20 resulted. To avoid a repeat, community leaders must demand safety and=20 protection of individual rights. As an independent reviewer of=20 complaints, the CRA will match the rhetoric with the reality and hold=20 police officers accountable to the law. The balance between individual rights and community safety, and the=20 policing and civilian review of policing that communities want, is a=20 critical matter =97 this year especially. Ultimately, the question to=20 ask yourself is this: Will your community, another political entity,=20 or the police themselves decide what standards for policing and=20 accountability will prevail in your neighborhood? We invite individuals and organizations to contact us. CRA Board=20 members will make ourselves available to help facilitate this=20 important community discussion. The Civilian Review Board meets the first Wednesday of every month at=20 6:30 pm in Room 135 of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange Building, 400=20 S. 4th St, Minneapolis. A portion of every meeting is devoted to=20 public comment.