San Francisco Chronicle

9 Oakland police officers discipline­d

Cops engaged in ‘sexist and racist’ Instagram account, officials say

- By Sarah Ravani Sarah Ravani is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sravani@sfchronicl­ Twitter: @SarRavani

Nine Oakland police officers have been discipline­d for engaging with a racist and sexist Instagram account set up by a former officer, officials said.

City officials released a statement summarizin­g the findings of a lengthy investigat­ion into the Instagram account, one that had already prompted the Police Department to add to its sexual harassment and workplace behavior training and to increase oversight of employee social media use.

The investigat­ion’s outcome could also be a linchpin in deciding whether Oakland’s Police Department can put an end to nearly two decades of federal oversight.

The Instagram account posted “deeply offensive content” in the form of memes that criticized policies and cultural changes at the department. In

January, the Oaklandsid­e revealed an Instagram account under the username @crimereduc­tionteam, which posted sexist and racist commentary, as well as criticism of OPD policies meant to prevent brutality and corruption.

The creator of the account, who was not named in the report, “appeared to be intimately familiar with the department, and specifical­ly the crime reduction teams,” the city said. The names of the discipline­d officers were also not made public.

Mayor Libby Schaaf and City Administra­tor Ed Reiskin hired a third-party investigat­or to determine who created the Instagram account and if any current officers had engaged with content posted to it.

Discipline ranged from a three-day unpaid suspension to a 25-day unpaid suspension for personnel ranging in rank from officer to lieutenant.

Schaaf said in a statement that she “wholeheart­edly and strongly” condemns any behavior that “supports or engages with sexist and racist tropes.”

She added that “sexist and racist behaviors are far too prevalent in our culture and have no place in our public safety institutio­ns.”

The findings come less than a month after attorneys indicated that the department could be nearing the end of 18 years of federal oversight. A court-mandated federal monitor has overseen the department after the “Riders” scandal in 2003, when a group of rogue officers was accused of beating and framing Oakland citizens of crimes.

But one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys expressed concern in August about the Instagram scandal. In a court hearing earlier this month, John Burris and James Chanin, the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said they will produce a report on the case. If the report shows that “racist, misogyny, and cultural rot” exist in the department, it will hinder the city from reaching full compliance, according to the judge.

The city said Friday that investigat­ors seized more than 140 department-issued cell phones and studied all their contents and online histories. They interviewe­d every officer on the crime reduction teams, individual­s in specialize­d units, and every officer in patrol and investigat­ive units who intersecte­d with personnel on the crime reduction teams.

Investigat­ors determined that the account was created by a former Oakland police officer, who was not identified, shortly after the officer was terminated for violating department policies.

Nine other officers were found to have violated department policies, including accessing inappropri­ate material on department-issued equipment, including content unrelated to the Instagram account, sexual harassment or other conduct, failure to perform duties and responsibi­lities, and failure to report violations. Of those nine officers, two have left the department and work in other law enforcemen­t agencies. The city said those agencies have been notified of the investigat­ion’s findings.

All employees will now report work-related social media accounts to the department’s Office of Inspector General and are required to provide passwords and usernames to their work-related accounts. The inspector general can audit content of department­issued technology at anytime.

Employees are also banned from having personal social media accounts on their workissued technology.

The department plans to develop “cultural competency training” with Stanford University for staff and bring in outside experts to hold extra sexual harassment and inappropri­ate workplace behavior training.

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