Chauncey Bailey Project

Dissent on the rise within Oakland Police Department

Michael Rains
Michael Rains

Michael Rains

By KTVU-TV, The Chauncey Bailey Project

OAKLAND, Calif. — A rare open breach is becoming apparent in the Oakland Police Department, much of it highlighted by the controversial investigation into the brazen slaying of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey.

It is uniformly understood in law enforcement that differences of opinion inside the ranks do not get aired in the open.

So when two Oakland homicide investigators hired powerhouse attorney Michael Rains, everyone in the department paid attention.

Now Rains is calling for the mayor to oust the chief of police:

“I think that if you have a police department that’s not being honest with the public and with their own employees, but expecting the employees to operate at a different standard than those who run the organization, that the people who run the organization need to go,” explained Rains in a recent interview.

The attorney represents Oakland homicide Sergeant Derwin Longmire and homicide Lieutenant Ursy Joyner, the officer who runs the unit. Both are being transferred out of homicide by Police Chief Wayne Tucker.

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“The first thing I would do is I would say to the administration of this police department that it’s not enough to pay lip service to integrity and honesty, ” said Rains “That that whole thing starts at the top and it starts with your actions, not with things you say to others. And so, with this department to be talking the importance of openness, transparency, [and] integrity by the employees and then to not practice it themselves, that is pure and simple hypocrisy”

One subject in dispute is the investigation into the slaying of Chauncey Bailey, the first journalist assassinated in the U.S. in a generation.

The Chauncey Bailey Project — a group to which KTVU belongs — has spoken to more than a dozen current and former Oakland police officers and public officials, almost all of whom declined to go on camera.

But they did say uniformly that there are serious problems under Chief Tucker and his top staff.

The chief declined to answer questions for this story.

One uniformed officer familiar with many of the details of the Chauncey Bailey homicide investigation agreed to go on camera if his identity was disguised.

“With the Chauncey Bailey case, there’s a lot of questions, ” said the anonymous officer. “There’s a lot of concerns from the officer’s level.”

The veteran officer repeated what others said in off-the-record interviews.

“With the Chauncey Bailey case, it’s my belief that had not the reporters and everybody stepped in, none of the information that’s out there now would have ever been out,” said the officer

After Chauncey Bailey was gunned down a year and half ago, investigators headed by homicide Detective Longmire and Lieutenant Joyner arrested one man for the slaying.

But mounting evidence points to the suspect’s former boss at the now defunct “Your Black Muslim Bakery” as the mastermind behind the killing.

Critics say the department’s handling of the investigation was flawed from the top down.

“There’s no confidence in Chief Tucker and the performance of the job that he’s doing,” said the veteran officer who agreed to speak for this report. “I think this job, in a sense, is way over his head.”

And if there were a vote on the chief’s performance by the rank and file?

“I would definitely say that it would probably be in the 90 percentile that between officers and sergeants that would vote him out.”

The situation is having an effect on the street. Charles Pine is a retired software engineer who lives in East Oakland and is an active community organizer focusing on Oakland police issues.

“The officers, I think, are like anybody else you know,” said Pine. “When you’ve got a job, you want to do it and you want to do it well. When they feel there are political constraints, they feel they don’t have the required backup.”

Pine continued: “We [have] half the police department in Oakland compared to most major cities; when they feel that when they make an arrest they’re not going to get the support they need or the investigation resources aren’t there to follow-up and make the case, that impacts the quality of their work. That’s part of the reason we have such a problem in this city. We’re ranked the fourth or fifth most dangerous city in the country.”

The mayor of Oakland is the elected official responsible for the police department. Mayor Ron Dellums declined to comment for this story.

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