When I was a reporter many moons ago, I was covering a federal criminal case against four area policemen, and was fascinated to discover that local police departments frequently violated their own policy and procedures manuals. I was even more surprised to find that many of those departments didn't even have policy manuals -- even though officials stated they did on their insurance policy applications. At first, I came to the not-unreasonable conclusion that officials simply lied on their applications to get a cheaper rate -- but the more I dug, the clearer it became that their insurance broker was
actively colluding helping them fudge all kinds of interesting things.
And you know what else? The insurance carrier didn't even care. (I know; I called them. I managed to get the CEO on the phone after his secretary left for the day, and he basically told me he got so much business from this one broker, why would he want to rock the boat?) Further investigation revealed that this broker was on the carrier's advisory board and helped them set rates -- and the broker's best bud handled all the lawsuits filed against county police.
This is a long way of saying that when it comes to municipal insurance, don't assume anyone's telling the truth. So Oakland had this manual - how frequently were officers trained or tested on its provisions? How many supervisors told them they were expected to follow the rules? And what were the details of the settlements they've paid out? Because on some level, you can't really hold cops responsible if they were never told otherwise. (Without the nudge nudge, wink wink, I mean.)
I'm sure some departments, somewhere follow the rules. But the bigger the city, the bigger the potential for pinstripe payoffs, and it's almost always business as usual:
Tuesday's police crackdown in Oakland may well have violated the Oakland Police Department’s Crowd Control & Crowd Management Policy.There is no doubt the Oakland Police Department used Specialty Impact Less-Lethal Munitions (SIM) on the Occupy Oakland Protesters Tuesday night.
This video clearly shows several stun grenades being thrown into crowds.Video here shows Marine Veteran Scott Olsen being struck by either a stun grenade or a tear gas canister and another stun grenade being thrown at protesters looking to help him. There is also evidence of rubber bullets being fired at the crowd, and injuries having been sustained from those, as well.
Disturbing enough on its own, the Oakland PD then denied using SIM force on protesters at all and claimed that in fact, no one had been injured. Worse yet, after protesters were hit with an exploding device while attempting to come to the aid of Olsen, they had to carry him through the crowd, begging for medical aid even though dozens of Oakland Police looked on from the other side of their barrier.
According to The Guardian, an informal independent police review body is already looking into the circumstances surrounding Olsen's injuries. (Thanks to Jill Klausen, in California, for her help with this story.)
UPDATE: According to San Francisco's ABC7 News, interim Police Chief Howard Jordan said Olsen's injury will be treated as a Level 1 investigation, which is the same as if police had used lethal force. A Level 1 investigation involves not only Internal Affairs, but the district attorney and the office of the Inspector General.