Facebook icon
Instagram icon
Medium icon
Twitter icon
Any use of police is a use of forceAny use of police is a use of force

Police terror is the consequence of decades of unrelenting state-sanctioned violence levied, especially against Black people by militarized police forces, resulting in high rates of Black death and extreme fear within the Black psyche.

Couple this with the ongoing fact that police officers are very rarely, if ever, held accountable by governments for the senseless killings of Black people, and the presence of police becomes a looming, inescapable threat to Black bodies everywhere. Any use of the police is a use of force.

Raheem, the independent service for reporting police, was contracted by the City of Oakland to conduct a three-month study about Oaklanders’ experiences with police use of force and what changes they believe should be made to the Oakland Police Department’s use of force policy.

We worked with YouGov to conduct a representative survey of 512 adults living in Oakland and partnered with 8 Black and brown-led community-based organizations to conduct a survey of directly impacted communities - receiving responses from 166 people who reported being directly harmed by police use of force.

Here are our findings and policy recommendations.

Jump to all recommendations

Recommendation 1

Show support

Expand the definition of “use of force” and revise the reporting requirements beyond firearm use.

Here's why

Oakland police do not systematically report incidents where they threaten other people with force (except pointing a firearm), but people directly harmed by police use of force believe police actions that intimidate or threaten people should be classified as use of force. Most Oaklanders agree with this definition.

Recommendation 2

Show support

Police should not use any force against people threatening to hurt only themselves.

Here's why

92%

92% of Oaklanders directly harmed by police use of force believe police should not be allowed to use force against people threatening to hurt themselves but not others.

57%

57% of Oaklanders in general believe police should not be allowed to use force against people threatening to hurt themselves but not others.

Recommendation 3

Show support

Disarm most police and don’t send armed police for any unarmed conflicts or non-violent situations.

Here's why

90%

90% of Oaklanders who were directly harmed by police use of force support disarming some or all police officers of guns. 59% support disarming all police officers.

51%

51% of Oaklanders in general support disarming some or all police officers of guns. 14% support disarming all police officers.

Recommendation 4

Show support

Send alternative responders to mental health crises, loitering, noise complaints, and other non-criminal issues.

Here's why

Oaklanders directly harmed by police use of force overwhelmingly support alternative responses to many issues police currently respond to. Of the situations we offered, only active shooter situations were viewed by a majority of directly impacted respondents to be appropriate for police intervention.

While Oaklanders in general are more divided in their support of non-policing alternatives to issues like traffic enforcement or trespassing, majorities of all Oakland respondents support removing police-based responses to mental health crises, animal control, evictions of people living homeless and complaints of loitering.

Recommendation 5

Show support

Support state legislation making all allegations of police misconduct public.

Here's why

94%

94% of respondents directly harmed by police use of force believe all records of police misconduct should be made public.

52%

The majority of Oaklanders in general (52%) support this.

Recommendation 6

Show support

Cut the police budget and build more quality affordable housing and mental health services.

Here's why

94%

94% of respondents who’ve been directly harmed by police use of force believe the Oakland police budget should be cut, while the remaining 6% want the budget to remain the same.

49%

While views were more divided among Oaklanders in general, 49% want to cut the Oakland police budget, 33% want it kept the same, and only 18% want the OPD budget increased.

Among Oaklanders who want the OPD budget cut, most want the funds reallocated to mental health services, free and low-cost health services, substance abuse treatment, education, jobs, and affordable housing programs.

Recommendation 7

Show support

Make the Police Commission, City Council, or Mayor the decider of police disciplinary appeals.

Here's why

Both directly harmed respondents and Oaklanders in general support changing the existing system of having arbitrators decide police disciplinary appeals. They support giving either a community oversight board or local elected officials the power to decide these appeals instead.

Recommendation 8

Show support

Make the police department or individual officers pay the financial costs of their misconduct.

Here's why

97%

97% of respondents directly harmed by police use of force believe Oakland police need to be held more accountable for use of force than they currently are.

58%

The majority of Oaklanders in general (58%) agree with this position.

Both directly harmed respondents and Oaklanders in general support changing the existing practice of paying police misconduct settlements from the City of Oakland’s general fund. They support having settlements be paid by either the officer directly or by the police department budget instead.

Recommendation 9

Show support

Publish detailed data about 911 calls so communities can determine where to reallocate resources.

Here's why

Among Oaklanders who want the OPD budget cut, most want the funds reallocated to mental health services, free and low-cost health services, substance abuse treatment, education, jobs, and affordable housing programs.

Recommendation 10

Show support

Remove from the force officers with the largest records of misconduct first, when reducing the size of the police force.

Here's why

Both respondents directly harmed by police use of force and Oaklanders in general support changing the current process of conducting layoffs in order of officer seniority if there are budget cuts. Instead, Oaklanders in general overwhelmingly support a process that prioritizes removing officers who have the worst records of misconduct complaints, racial disparities, or police use of force.

Policy Recommendations

Show support

Recommendation 1 of 10Expand the definition of “use of force” and revise the reporting requirements beyond firearm use.

redefine-force
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 2 of 10Police should not use any force against people threatening to hurt only themselves.

not-use-force
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 3 of 10Disarm most police and don’t send armed police for any unarmed conflicts or non-
violent situations.

disarm-most-police
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 4 of 10Send alternative responders to mental health crises, loitering, noise complaints, and other non-criminal issues.

send-unarmed
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 5 of 10Support state legislation making all allegations of police misconduct public.

support-legislations
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 6 of 10Cut the police budget and build more quality affordable housing and mental health services.

cut-the-police-budget
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 7 of 10Make the Police Commission, City Council, or Mayor the decider of police disciplinary appeals.

police-commission
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 8 of 10Make the police department or individual officers pay the financial costs of their misconduct.

pay-for-misconducts
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 9 of 10Publish detailed data about 911 calls so communities can determine where to reallocate resources.

911-calls
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Recommendation 10 of 10Remove from the force officers with the largest records of misconduct first, when reducing the size of the police force.

remove-from-force
Police Use of Force Report09.28.20

Voices from the community

In addition to surveying the two groups, Raheem collected and examined reports from Oaklanders about 121 police encounters during the study (July - September). Under Penal Codes 832.7 & 832.8, the City of Oakland is prohibited from sharing stories about police that could be described as complaints.

Unfortunately, because Raheem was contracted by the City, there is a strong possibility that we too are bound by the above penal codes. The irony is that 94% of respondents who had experienced police use of force believed all records of police misconduct should be made public. The majority of all Oaklanders (52%) support this.

Report describing physical attack by police

Redacted Story

Report describing incident where police should not have been involved

Redacted Story

Report describing police use of force during protests

Redacted Story

Report describing police racial profiling

Redacted Story

Our methodology

Raheem conducted two surveys about police use of force: one survey that captures the general public’s opinion and another survey capturing the opinions of people directly harmed by police use of force.

Based on the findings of the two surveys and 121 stories submitted by Oaklanders about their police encounters, Raheem is suggesting the City of Oakland make certain policy recommendations to the laws that govern the Oakland Police Department’s use of force.

  • Donate