How Not to Fix a Police Department

I have a new piece up on the City Journal California website today in which I discuss the state of affairs in the city of Oakland, California, and its beleaguered police department.

Making a bad situation much, much worse, the Oakland P.D. now finds itself under the control of a federal judge, and a left-leaning one at that. U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson, who has presided over a long-running civil case engendered by a police corruption scandal, will soon appoint a “compliance director” to oversee the department’s efforts to enact reforms. You may recall Judge Henderson as the man who in 1996 temporarily blocked the implementation of California’s Proposition 209, which prohibited race and gender preferences in employment, education, and government contracting. (Judge Henderson’s decision was overturned by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; Prop. 209 has withstood all subsequent legal challenges and remains the law in California.)

Whatever the failings of the Oakland Police Department, they will not be remedied by the federal bureaucracy soon to be erected in the name of oversight and reform.

Along similar lines, in a piece on the City Journal site, my friend Heather Mac Donald has done her customary evisceration of police critics in New York. The New York Civil Liberties Union, along with some white-shoe law firms doing pro bono work on behalf of some sketchy plaintiffs, seek to end the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” program that has done so much to lower crime in the South Bronx and other blighted areas in the city. As is the case in Oakland, a federal judge seems to have accepted at face value some spurious claims made by the plaintiffs and their attorneys. If the plaintiffs prevail in hamstringing the police, they and their lawyers will be enriched while their neighbors suffer under the weight of the higher crime that will surely follow.