Nine Oakland police officers have been disciplined following an independent investigation into some racist and sexist posts shared on social media.
The mayor’s office made the announcement on Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Seven of the officers were suspended for up to 25 days without pay and two others, who were somehow able to get jobs with different law enforcement agencies, have had their agencies notified.
The investigation was launched in January after the news website Oaklandside reported about an Instagram account, called “crimereductionteam,” that had memes and images joking about police brutality and reform, rape and other offensive content. After Oakland Police Department officials were notified, investigators found that a former Oakland police officer, who was previously fired in 2020 for misconduct, had created the account following his termination.
I love that they think police reform is a joke while simultaneously making a case for it.
Here’s more from the Times:
After the discovery, the mayor and city administrator brought in third-party investigators, who confiscated 140 work phones from Oakland officers and identified nine sworn employees they identified as having accessed inappropriate material with their devices.
The city has not made the names of the officers public. The Times’ says all the materials from the investigation will be sent to a federal court to decide what information can be made public.
According to KRON, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s office issued a statement saying that as well as accessing the inappropriate material on their work-issued phones, they also engaged in undisclosed misconduct.
In hopes of preventing future such incidents, the department will take actions including reviewing and strengthening existing policies for department-issued technology, creating additional training on the appropriate use of department cellphones and developing robust training to ensure no violations of its zero-tolerance racial policy forbidding any engagement with racist, extremist, or white supremacy groups, the mayor’s office said.
The OPD has been under federal court monitoring for nearly two decades as a result of a 2003 civil rights settlement, according to the Times. However, that hasn’t stopped the department from being involved in several police misconduct scandals including a case of police sexually exploiting a teenager in 2016 and mishandling the fatal police shooting death of Joshua Pawlik in 2018.
Pawlik was found unconscious in an alley with a handgun near him, according to the Times, but when he woke up and moved he was shot by five officers. The Times notes the officers are currently fighting their terminations in court.
According to the Times, U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said he will consider how the department handled the Instagram scandal in deciding whether to end the federal oversight.
“Sexist and racist behaviors are far too prevalent in our culture and have no place in our public safety institutions,” Mayor Schaaf said in a statement, according to the Times. “I wholeheartedly and strongly condemn any behavior, including online communications, that supports or engages with sexist or racist tropes.”
Well, I think it goes without saying that the suspensions just seem too light for offensive jokes on a public platform. Especially from individuals who are tasked with serving and protecting our communities. People have lost their jobs over less and in this climate, the police should be held to a higher standard.