9 Oakland police officers disciplined over racist, sexist social media posts
Nine current and former Oakland police officers have been given unpaid leaves after an investigation showed the group shared offensive content online while using their work cellphones.
Seven current officers, whose ranks include a lieutenant, were suspended for up to 25 days without pay after the investigation of an Instagram account belonging to an officer who was fired late last year. Two others have since moved to other jurisdictions, which have been notified about the findings.
Investigators determined a former Oakland police officer, who had been fired in 2020 for “other misconduct,” created an Instagram account with posts deemed “racist and sexist” and containing other “deeply offensive content” after his termination.
The probe began in January after news website Oaklandside revealed the Instagram account, called “crimereductionteam,” which included memes and images that joked about police brutality, rape and undermining constitutional policing reforms.
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 Oakland City Council voted 6 to 2 to reallocate $18.4 million from the Police Department’s budget toward violence prevention and non-police social services.
“Sexist and racist behaviors are far too prevalent in our culture and have no place in our public safety institutions,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement. “I wholeheartedly and strongly condemn any behavior, including online communications, that supports or engages with sexist or racist tropes.”
The mayor said the officers’ conduct “brings disrepute to OPD.”
The officers’ suspensions ranged from three to 25 days without pay. The city, which did not identify any of those involved, said it would submit all details of the investigation to the federal court and a judge would determine what information would be made public.
The action comes as the Oakland Police Department is trying to move away from nearly two decades of federal court monitoring that has stretched on as the department has been engulfed in a series of sex and police-misconduct scandals.
Despite that monitoring, which stems from a 2003 civil rights settlement, Oakland officers were among a group of East Bay police charged with sexually exploiting a teenage girl in 2016.
The federal monitor also found that the department mishandled an investigation into the 2018 killing of Joshua Pawlik. He had been lying unconscious on the ground between two houses with a handgun nearby but eventually woke up and moved. He was by shot by five officers, who subsequently lost their jobs and are challenging their terminations in the courts.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick said he will consider the department’s handling of the investigation into the Instagram scandal in deciding whether to end federal oversight.
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