Police accountability activists this week established an anonymous hotline for whistleblowers to report “corruption, misconduct and predatory policing” within the Oakland Police Department (OPD).
The hotline was set up by Civil Rights attorney Dan Siegel at his Oakland law firm, Siegel and Yee.
“We are hearing unofficially from people in the department that they are embarrassed and upset” by ongoing sex abuse and other misconduct scandals in OPD, said Siegel, speaking at a press conference Monday in front of the police department headquarters.
The press conference organizers, the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), said they decided to create the hotline after learning that Mayor Libby Schaaf hired a private investigator to “identify and punish whistleblowers who are bringing these problems to the public,” according to an APTP statement to the media.
“Our legal team, Siegel and Yee, wanted to step up and provide a safe place for officers who want to expose corruption of the police department to come tell their stories,” said Cat Brooks of APTP.
According to the APTP statement, activists are hearing that some officers “want to stop observing the ‘Code of Silence’ that goes against their oath to protect and serve the City of Oakland.”
“Many of those same officers may fear retaliation, a ruined career or worse as a result of going against the expectation to look the other way when the abuse of authority occurs,” the statement said.
Siegel and Yee will take statements and give advice to OPD employees who contact the hotline.
“We can provide you with legal advice if you are facing retaliation for going public with information about (misconduct), and your anonymity will be protected,” the APTP statement said.
Spokeswoman Karen Boyd denied that the city was seeking to plug leaks.
“The city administrator initiated an investigation not into whistleblowers but into who was divulging (information) or how information that was legally, confidentially protected was being divulged,” Boyd told KRON4.
Saying the hotline is unnecessary, Schaaf said in an interview with KRON that the city already has its own hotline for whistleblowers.
“Oakland has long had its own anonymous whistleblower hotline. It’s run by our independent auditor,” Schaaf said.
The hotline number at Siegel and Yee is (510) 839-1200. Evidence can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.