Judge orders new restrictions on Oakland police following scandal

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FILE PHOTO: Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf speaks to members of the media in Oakland California

By Alissa Greenberg

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A federal judge said on Monday he would impose new restrictions on the Oakland Police Department following a scathing report into a scandal in which officers engaged in sexual misconduct with a teenage girl.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who has had oversight of Oakland police since the 2003 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit, said the report found the scandal was mishandled by both the department and the city.

While the police department had clearly made some progress since the settlement, Henderson said during a hearing in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, “some of the critical areas giving rise to this case remain unresolved.”

The judge said he would issue a written ruling this week setting forth additional monitoring and reporting requirements for the police department.Three Oakland police chiefs resigned in quick succession last year after the local East Bay Express newspaper reported that numerous officers in Oakland and elsewhere sexually exploited a teenage girl.

Seven current and former San Francisco Bay Area law enforcement officers, including five from Oakland, were criminally charged last year in connection with the sex scandal, including some on charges of sex acts with a minor.

A report on the scandal filed by a court-appointed monitor in June found that an internal investigation by the department was “severely mishandled” and not given enough attention by city officials, including Mayor Libby Schaaf.

An attorney for the city said that officials intended to go above and beyond recommendations of the report and had confidence in the abilities of a newly appointed police chief to implement reforms.

Oakland officials in January named a high-ranking Chicago law enforcement official, Anne Kirkpatrick, as the first woman to head its police department. Schaaf has publicly slammed the department for its “toxic” and “macho” culture.”I am the chief now, so I apologize. I apologize to you sir, I apologize to everyone in this room who has been affected,” Kirkpatrick said to Henderson during the hearing.

Officials at the department became aware of the scandal after an officer took his own life in September 2015.

The officer left behind a suicide note detailing his interactions with the girl and her claims that she was involved with other Oakland policemen while still a minor.

Oakland officials in May agreed to pay the now-19-year-old woman nearly $1 million to settle her legal claims, according to the Los Angeles Times.

(Reporting by Alissa Greenberg; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Andrew Hay)

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