.Town Business: Oakland Police Agreements With Federal Law Enforcement Will Be Subjected to Greater Oversight

Federal-Oakland Police Agreements: The Oakland City Council is expected to approve legislation on Tuesday that will subject the police department’s agreements with federal law enforcement agencies to more oversight.

The vote comes after the FBI quietly communicated with Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick about how the ordinance might impact the bureau’s partnerships with OPD, including the Joint Terrorism Task Force and a homicide investigations team.

In addition to the FBI, OPD has agreements with the U.S. Marshals, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other federal police forces that allow local cops to work in tandem with the feds. But until recently, very little information about these task forces was made public.

The Oakland Privacy Commission is concerned that some partnerships with federal agencies could lead to violations of civil rights and privacy. Federal agencies use a different set of rules when conducting investigations than local police.

The new ordinance would require the chief of police to submit any new proposed agreements between OPD and federal agencies to the Oakland Privacy Commission — before the agreement is signed. The commission would review the agreement in a public hearing and make sure that it includes safeguards to protect the civil liberties of Oakland residents. The police chief would also have to submit an annual report to the privacy commission reviewing OPD’s work with federal agencies, especially regarding the use of surveillance technologies in investigations.

Oakland Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney is sponsoring the ordinance.

The city council voted to approve the ordinance in July, but it required a second reading to take effect. After the first reading, City Hall sources told the Express that Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick became worried about how it could affect OPD’s relationship with the FBI. A second vote was delayed last month.

The FBI’s San Francisco Field Office declined to comment about the ordinance except to say that it did not ask that the legislation be delayed.

At a League of Women Voters event several weeks ago, Kirkpatrick declined to answer questions from the Express about the ordinance and the FBI’s possible concerns.

But McElhaney’s legislative analyst, Alex Marqusee, confirmed that the FBI sent OPD some questions about the legislation. He said, however, that the agency’s concerns were heard and that all parties are now comfortable with the ordinance, which is expected to pass.


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