Best Watchdog’s Watchdog

Jim Chanin

The Oakland Police Department has been plagued by officer misconduct for decades. OPD has a particularly deplorable record for shooting unarmed suspects, especially young men of color. Two East Bay attorneys, however, have committed themselves over the years to holding the department accountable — John Burris of Oakland and Jim Chanin of Berkeley. Burris, a media darling, has received much attention, but Chanin’s work should not be overlooked. He’s no fire-breathing liberal, either. He’s reasonable, thoughtful, and tough. For example, he’s repeatedly tried to get OPD to adopt the best practices of other police departments, and has endorsed the work of independent monitors — all retired cops — who have been keeping close tabs on Oakland police. Unfortunately, OPD brass and the police union have resisted the court-ordered reforms. As a result, OPD may become the first police department in the nation to end up in federal receivership.

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