Oakland Cops Prioritizing Drug Arrests Over Homicides in Its Crime Labs

Government priorities in Oakland explained via the East Bay Express, [link fixed] for those who wonder what it might be like in a nightmare world without efficient and sensible state-provided justice protecting our lives and property:

: [ henning ] / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND: [ henning ] / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 In 2012, OPD solved just 28 percent of the homicides in the city, and the department has come under intense criticism for its investigative shortcomings. Last year, the Alameda County Grand Jury noted that OPD's crime lab had untested evidence in at least 330 homicide cases dating back several years.....

OPD crime lab director Mary Gibbons informed the city council's Public Safety Committee last month that the department had 659 homicide cases in which it still had evidence that needed testing. Furthermore, homicide investigations are in such disarray that the lab has no idea which of the cases with unexamined evidence have been closed or adjudicated. Gibbons also presented a report that made it clear OPD's crime lab has been running at below capacity for the past seven years. "Some of these cases are very, very old. Whether they've been adjudicated or not, no one's bothered to tell us," she said.....

But it isn't that they can't be quick when they want to be:

....while the department has deemphasized homicide investigations, it has made drug cases — including minor drug arrests — its top priority. OPD's crime lab, in fact, has no backlog for narcotics evidence and processes 95 percent of all suspected drug cases within 24 hours, while allowing homicide case evidence to languish for years without being examined.

Why do they do that? Well, it's easier and they need to hurry "to ensure individuals arrested with drugs can be charged within the 48-hour window that Alameda County District Attorney has under the law to bring criminal cases against those people." OPD Deputy Chief Danielle Outlaw called these priorities a "cost-effective way of doing business." Yes, if a drug arrest is the same as a homicide arrest, and if you are a city cop, why shouldn't it be? What do you care?

As I once said to a bunch of college kids in a downtown Atlanta college who wondered, what would life be like without government police? I ask you to consider the Zen proposition that, for any purpose for which their existence would actually help you, there already is no such thing as government police.

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  • Anomalous||

    The deputy police chief is an Outlaw. Explains a lot.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    When given the choice of prioritizing tasks that do not directly affect the chooser personally, the one selected will be the most easily accomplished.

    See speeding tickets.

  • sarcasmic||

    Homicide cases don't result in asset forfeiture.

  • SKR||

    *ding ding ding ding*

    we have a winner!

  • Robert||

    But neither do most drug cases, and the forfeitures don't require forensics, so that's definitely not the explanation.

  • ||

    That's an interesting link up there. Any chance of a link to the actual article?

  • ||

    Here's the article for those that don't want to look at the douchey picture http://www.eastbayexpress.com/.....id=3750778

  • Brian Doherty||

    The link is fixed, thanks.

  • ||

    for any purpose for which their existence would actually help you, there already is no such thing as government police.

    Money quote.

  • niobiumstudio||

    Well, if you've ever wanted to give murdering somebody a shot, looks like Oakland is the #1 destination for that... Airfare this time of year before Thanksgiving ramps up is usually pretty cheap too.

  • ||

    Plus you can get a kickass cioppino not far form there.

    Hhmmm.....

  • niobiumstudio||

    See you there. Just don't bring any drugs and you'll be fine.

  • Killazontherun||

    Also, it sounds like a great place to invite and pay for the stay of a person you may already have in mind. Any tourist sites there?

  • Paul.||

    OPD's crime lab, in fact, has no backlog for narcotics evidence and processes 95 percent of all suspected drug cases within 24 hours, while allowing homicide case evidence to languish for years without being examined.

    If you're dead, you no longer provide revenue to the system. Why would you be a priority?

  • mr simple||

    See, Brian? Even sidewalk graffiti artists know to provide alt-text.

  • CatoTheElder||

    By any performance metric, it makes more sense to spend resources on prosecuting vice than on real crimes.

    Arrests/police workhour
    Convictions/prosecutor workhour
    Guilty jury verdicts/prosecutor workhour
    Jail time/workhour
    Asset forfeitures/ workhour
    etc.

    Investigating and prosecuting real crime is hard work. Vice, not so much.

    The asset forfeitures make vice crime a profit center. As an added bonus, vice enforcement creates plenty of graft opportunities for LEOs, prosecutors, judges, and sundry politicians.

    What on earth would the government legal system want to get involved in investigating and prosecuting a real crime? (Unless, of course, it was a real crime that had government itself as the victim.)

  • CatoTheElder||

    By any performance metric, it makes more sense to spend resources on prosecuting vice than on real crimes.

    Arrests/police workhour
    Convictions/prosecutor workhour
    Guilty jury verdicts/prosecutor workhour
    Jail time/workhour
    Asset forfeitures/ workhour
    etc.

    Investigating and prosecuting real crime is hard work. Vice, not so much.

    The asset forfeitures make vice crime a profit center. As an added bonus, vice enforcement creates plenty of graft opportunities for LEOs, prosecutors, judges, and sundry politicians.

    What on earth would the government legal system want to get involved in investigating and prosecuting a real crime? (Unless, of course, it was a real crime that had government itself as the victim.)

  • Paul Pot||

    A friend of mine disappeared and the cops literally said she was a hippy girl, that's what hippy girls do. It wasn't till the waves washed her bones out of the sand that real police got involved. Another friend just never showed up again. The police have much more important things to do than to spend their time violating human rights.
    End the drug war.

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