Oakland Local

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Council Set to Vote on Pay Raise For Occupy Oakland Investigators


Oakland police bar protesters from entering Frank Ogawa Plaza after an early morning raid.

Tonight, Tuesday, April 3, the Oakland City Council will consider raising the pay of the third party investigators hired to examine police actions around Occupy Oakland.

City Administrator Deanna Santana said she wants to see an increase for the Frazier Group that will more than double the pay, by bumping it up to $250,000. Initially, the third-party investigation into OPD's handling of Occupy Oakland was slated to cost $100,000.

In a matter of weeks the investigative team is expected to deliver a report on the police handling of Occupy Oakland, one of the most volatile issues currently facing the city. The Frazier Group has pledged to be fair and independent in its assessment of the Oakland Police Department's, however its previous ties to OPD may blunt the impact of its upcoming report, some say.

As a former special advisor to the Oakland Police Department on the Negotiated Settlement Agreement compliance, questions remain about why Thomas Frazier stepped down as an advisor and whether his previous work with OPD will shade the Occupy Oakland investigation report.

In a recent report to City Council on the  proposal, administration staff outline the need to increase the pay of the Frazier Group.

"Due to the volume, sensitivity and complexity of these complaints, as well as mandates outlined in the Negotiated Settlement Agreement (NSA), the need exists to increase the Department's investigative capacity to ensure compliance with the NSA," the report reads.

Frazier was first brought in last October after Anthony Batts stepped down as police chief, leaving open the chance that the NSA compliance work could go into a state of flux. Hoping to keep the NSA on track, the city brought Frazier on board, said Karen Boyd, a spokeswoman for the City Administrator's office. The hiring of Frazier was announced during a press conference introducing Howard Jordan as interim police chief.

"(Frazier) worked only briefly (as advisor), mainly getting acquainted with OPD," Boyd said. "Mr. Frazier was not involved in any discussions, operations planning or any other activity related to Oakland's response to Occupy Oakland."

But only a few weeks into his work as advisor, Frazier stepped down.

"(Frazier's) work did not continue once OPD's focus was on addressing the Occupy Oakland demonstrations starting in late October," Boyd said. She said she did not know the specific reason why Frazier stepped aside or if he was aware of the city's need to hire an Occupy Oakland independent investigator. Soon after, however, Frazier's group was one of  the three organizations bidding to become an independent investigator of police actions around OPD.

During the press conference introducing the Frazier Group as outside investigators, the city went to great lengths to underscore the independent nature of the work.

"The initiation of an independent investigation demonstrates that we have nothing to hide, and that we are eager to learn," Santana said in December.

City officials did not mention Frazier's previous work with Oakland at that press conference.

Frazier and a core three-person group are currently combing through police video, conducting interviews and listening to audio to find out what went wrong in the police response to the Occupy Oakland events.

Frazier's police credentials are extensive with many career points at large urban cities including the Baltimore Police Department where he served as police commissioner in the mid-'90s. Frazier actually began his police career in San Jose, where he worked for 20 years.

Source: Oakland Local []

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