Newsbrief: Corrupt Cop of the Week I Newsbrief: Corrupt Cop of the Week II Newsbrief: Corrupt Cop of the Week II 2/21/03

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Our second winners this week are the "Riders," a group of Oakland, CA, police officers who ran roughshod through the city's neighborhoods from 1996 to 2000. The three officers involved -- a fourth apparently fled to Mexico -- are currently on trial for 26 counts of kidnapping, assault, and filing false police reports against minority community members. (See and for previous coverage.)

But while the criminal trial of the rogue cops continues, the city of Oakland announced Wednesday that it will pay more than $10.9 million in damages and lawyers' fees to 119 victims of Riders' misconduct, as well as instituting serious reforms in the Oakland Police Department. The move settles a civil rights lawsuit brought by the victims. As part of the settlement, the city of Oakland explicitly denied any responsibility for the wrongdoing of its officers, but the terms of the settlement appear to belie that claim.

Under the settlement, which has been approved by a federal judge, the department's internal affairs unit will be beefed-up and its complaint system improved. Officers' use of force or pepper spray will also come under closer scrutiny within the department. Field supervisors will also be held more accountable for the misbehavior of their underlings. Most damning, the settlement also calls for the hiring of an independent monitor to oversee the scandal-plagued department's compliance for the next five years.

According to University of California law professor Franklin Zimring, the settlement was a tacit admission that the department was out of control. "That degree of structural detail and that range of contemplated structural change is testament to acknowledgment of a real problem," Zimring told the Sacramento Bee Thursday.

The Oakland Police Officers Association had no comment, but community organizer Jo Su of the group PUEBLO did. "One lesson we've learned from this whole Riders incident is the police really can't be trusted to police themselves," Su said.

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Issue #275, 2/21/03 Out from the Shadows: First Latin American Anti-Prohibition Summit Convenes in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Mérida Interview: María Mercedes Moreno of Mama Coca | Mérida Interview: Luiz Paulo Guanabara, Brazil, Executive Director of Psico-Tropicus | Rosenthal Verdict Fallout: Angry Jurors, Media Attention, a New Bill in Congress | Victory for Bolivian Coca-Growers Imminent, Reports Say Government Will Allow Coca in the Chapare | Thailand War on Drugs Turns Murderous, 600 Killed This Month -- Human Rights Groups Denounce Death Squads, Executions | Peoria Needle Lady Busted in Pekin, But Charges Later Dropped | Drug Czar's Office Masks TRUE Costs of War on Drugs in Federal Budget | Newsbrief: DEA Kills 14-Year-Old Girl in San Antonio, Claims Self Defense | Newsbrief: US Spooks Killed, Captured in Colombia | Newsbrief: French Cannabis Activist Faces Jail for "Encouraging Drug Use" | Newsbrief: Corrupt Cop of the Week I | Newsbrief: Corrupt Cop of the Week II | Newsbrief: Oklahoma Report Urges Sanity in Sentencing | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar

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