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tv   Reel America Oakland - 1974  CSPAN  June 9, 2020 8:52pm-9:19pm EDT

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next, on american history tv series, the people and the police, oakland, 1974 documentary about police brutality in the community and various tragedies to reform the police department. >> almost from the day it was founded, in 1848, the folks
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across the bay have been making jokes about oakland. there is no there there, as opposed to a stay. the jokes may live on, but oakland is no longer the faces other city across today. now, california's fourth largest city is a booming center of commerce, art, industry and culture. we >> but oakland new glamour and prosperity are not shared equally by all of its citizens. nearly half of the city's population is non white and many are poor. they do not patronize the symphony or the museums. they do not use to coliseum what the airport very much, nor do they hold their share of the
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jobs created by oakland's new industries, port and transportation facilities. ♪ ♪ ♪ >> most of oakland's black and brown citizens came in from the south during world war ii, lured by recruiters for government and private industry to work in shipyards and defense plants. after the war, the shipyards closed, and many factories move to the suburbs, leaving most non-white workers behind.
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technology put more workers on the unemployment and welfare lines, where they were joined by newly dispossessed farmers and farm workers forced off the land by the growth of agribusiness. for during the 19 fifties, oakland became a stagnant, seething ghetto oven poverty blacks and chicago's surrounded by the white affluence of alum in a county. to contain the misery, oakland all white police department earned a reputation for head knocking brutality that has left a well remembered legacy of bitterness in the minds and hearts of many who lived in that time and place. >> i was growing up in the late thirties and early forties, at that time, the police department was perceived brutally, and for the most part, there was extreme fear on the part of black people in west oakland at that time, where the police would ever come into the community. >> i remember one specific situation where several young blacks were being apprehended by the police, or they went
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into their homes to pick them up for some electorate crime, and i remember one particular police officer kicking one of the young people, could have been more than 13 or 14 years old. >> i think that the black panthers raises a significant issue, that was the brutality of the police when they came into the black community. >> the police were in the same position as the rest of government, and not being responsive to citizens needs. and our schools, we inculcated for many years, in my opinion, and our policeman, but i would characterize as a gung ho law enforcement orientation. we taught them lots of arrest, search and seizure, and patrol division -- patrol procedure practices, which would only result in an officer oriented in a very narrow law enforcement way.
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so as we went about this police department as an operational style and the 19 fifties and some part of the 1960s of stopping people on various pretexts, and this was a mandate from our police department itself, we incurred very, very bad relationships with our communities. >> today, there is a whole new relationship developing between the people of oakland ghettos and the police. police officials hold regular meetings in the community and they are well received. >> this is one of the greatest things that i have seen in oakland in my 30 years here, i never thought i'd see the day back in 47 or 48, police sitting down and that you criticize them. >> it's our responsibility to get in that community, will be here if you want us. and i'm here to assure you that those men that you see sitting here and them in that work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in the oakland police department will be striving to achieve a goal, taking a
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humanistic approach to policing. i don't care how frustrated are policeman happen to be, because they're working hard, or how frustrated the citizen has to be, i want every citizen treated with dignity. >> i would say there has been some tremendous change in the part of the police. i think they're moving away from the head knocking, brutal, physical approach and trying to be more public relations oriented, more community oriented and more sensitive and liberal in their approach to modern law enforcement. i see some dramatic effects because, as i say, i've been here when the case was juxtaposed in hard terms. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> and a moment, and look at how things are going in oakland between the people and the police. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ i joined the
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department in 1965. it was very different from what it is now, there was a lot more aggressive than. i don't care for the word harassment. there was a time that we were head knocking department. >> there are about 700 men in the oakland police department, an overwhelming number are white and most live in the suburbs outside the city. patrolmen john dixon joined the department after stint with the
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ghost card. he grew up in hala stir as a family man and likes his work. to this extent he is a typical oakland policeman. >> in the past there was a quota system, it wasn't down on paper but it did exist. you're expected to write a certain amount of citations, and a certain number of arrests. the quota system had to result in more aggressive policing. they had to go out of their way to find certain things and maybe they went a little far. we are trying to produce numbers. in arrests and just about every way. what has happened is that chief games said no more quota system. and there isn't any today. that is fantastic. we spend more time today talking to people and a lot of
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situations where they probably would have gone to jail before, i mean a lot of situations. prior to 1968, mid 1960s at least, the philosophy of the department was to operate basically as the lead list external of police department. gradually, through the late sixties and early seventies, we began to change the style of operations. into what is referred now as a service style of a police department. >> george hart is oakland's new police chief, he assumed leadership in october 1973 when chief gains retired after 27 years on the force. >> the change came about because it had to come about, to be responsive to the community. the community was saying to us,
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that we want a police organization which services the entire community in a fair and impartial manner. and we want to police organization in which we can have confidence. >> first, i would like to get you to think as much as you can as the look of police work and the way of operating before you even start training. >> oakland's new policing style is a product of an unusual collaboration between the police and social scientists. one scientist is jay douglas grant, research for the present present system. he has been successful in helping criminals overcome their own violet behavior through cell study. in 1969, they convinced police could officials that by helping violence prone policeman study
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their own behavior, they could reverse the spiral of violence between the police and the people of oakland. former chief gain agree that it was worth a try and they went to work with a grant from the federal government. today the self study process is carried on by the departments conflict management section. >> at the time, there is no regard to the quality of the work, it was just basically a numbers game. >> one idea that developed early in the self study process was that of tape recording actual confrontations between police officers and potentially violent citizens. the recordings have proved invaluable in and understanding how to avoid conflict and are now used in training new police officers in the art of discretionary decision-making. >> a police officer probably has the broadest powers of discretion and carrying out his functions than any other citizen. what we are going to do today, we are going to sit down and
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listen to to patrolmen as they intervene in a family dispute. we are not saying that everything they do in this case is the right way to do it. but they made certain decisions throughout this tape and we are going to critique these bit by bit. this is an actual street incident, real policemen and real people. >> some officers when they come into the academy feel like they are coming in trained to be tremendous crime fighter, but that is only a portion of their training, how to combat crime. a lot of it is how to deal with people, how to solve their everyday problems. >> all right then, just arrest me, just if you're not going to arrest me just let me go. >> i would like to kind of talk about it first. >> you understand me?
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you understand me? you ain't got nothing. don't tell me to cool down. >> what we are trying to provide, or promotes is an officer who does his job, does it well, does it efficiently, who does in fact produce but who at the same time is a very humanistic individual. who understands his community, who understands himself in the department. he has told you in 20 different ways what the problem is, one of the officers has already identified it. >> she doesn't want him back. >> i'm not telling them to not use force, because there are other times when they must use force. but i'm also saying that there are different ways to establish authority as a police officer.
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you can establish authority by concern, establish it by showing concern, pure physical force is not an absolute. that is not the only way one controls the situation. >> what i need is a woman. but i can't seek to find myself one. i'm looking at this one right here. i can get in trouble. you understand? >> what's the problem? >> he is screaming it to you. >> seems like it might be sex. >> why did you say it earlier? >> it is a very simple thing. >> until he started screaming. plain old six. >> but the oakland police to more than just talk about violence prevention in their academy classes. each time an officer must used force it is reported to a computer and periodically the
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computer selects those officers with an unusually high number of critical incidents. they are than invited to appear before a panel of fellow officers who review and meticulous detail his handling of the situation that resulted in violence. >> we are asking for you to be very candid with us. we are asking you to admit your mistakes, every guy on this panel has made some of the same mistakes that you made. none of us here are perfect. what we are trying to do is find better ways to do things. >> the action review panel is both voluntary and confidential, no record is kept, no disciplinary action is involved, and officer may sit for as long as eight hours while his peers question and analyze his questions, judgment, his personal attitude, even his mannerisms. since the panels were started in 1971, no man has refused to participate. the moderator of the action review panel is officer bob
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crawford of the count flicked management section. in this case the first out are found, the man in the hot seat is officer gerhardt. >> details, complaint that he has an illegitimate child but refuses to stay home. he had to be physically to do to be taken into custody. >> what happened? >> i don't remember it. >> you do realize that things like this are official records that can be subpoenaed into court and you could be suit. like you say six months later you might remember, two years later you might look like at the guy and say i had to subdue a 17-year-old girl who just got to the hospital for three weeks after giving birth to a baby and i don't remember a thing about it. you are looking very foolish. >> he has settled panels before. but i think it struck him being
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different to be sitting in that seat rather than in one of the other seats. >> you could've had your head blown off. >> he could've killed both of them. >> you could've had your head blown off. >> you can't handle two guys properly, i don't care how great you are. >> in this case he realized, that he had to take the first affirmative action arrest situation to overcome the small man. which he doesn't have to do because he works very effectively. >> i wanted to let you know about what the whole object of these panels are. winners these coming up one after another, and i wanted to ask a question, this man is not as big in stature as a lot of us, there's a few remarks that he has a small man's complex.
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>> the thing about the size, when i first came on i was 155 pounds. and i had a small man's complex. i'm not defensive about it, i don't think i am. i'm aware of my size. especially with another person. >> if there was no peer panel, no one to call attention to the fact that an officer did have a particular problem, whether it's a small man complex, he would've acted out the street and it would've been misread. i have seen the real heartache up here. sit through the panel, totally reject the panel, yet go out and do a different job than he was doing before. >> you pointed out some things that i was aware of, sort of halfway and did not think it through. it was really showing too much. it's good to have other people tell you something that you are already aware of.
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then you know other people are aware of it and you can make a beckon or effort to control it or whatever, i think. the panel is good. you picked a good panel. there is an officer here that i don't respect, from that aspect i think it's good. if there are budge of turkey's sitting here i would've left a long time ago. and you would've heard about it in the locker room. >> the suspect is considered 50 1:50, should be considered armed and dangerous, both or wanted for conspiracy and forgery. >> since the inception of the action review panel and other self study techniques there have been a dramatic drop in the number of conflicts between the police and the people of oakland. resistance to arrest and assault on officers dropped as much as 30% in a year while citizens complaints against police officers have been cut
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in half. but policeman are traditionalist many still admire the ideal of the super comp, tough, resourceful, courageous law man who always catches the crook. some of oakland's finest are still uncomfortable with their departments new style and philosophy. >> this is basically two parts to the job, one part is enforcing the law, and the second part is let's say helping people. our relationship with people are better than they used to be. but as far as enforcement of the law, we are's lacking off. and that is part of the job. >> john dixon works in the hard-core ghetto of west oakland. the neighborhood is poor and exclusively black. it is not an easy beat for a white policeman working alone.
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>> you have to be realistic, your child may go so through some more from me talking to him. >> i don't think he can go through no more. >> i am of two minds, the move has been good, we are dealing with the people in a much better frame of mind, results are better. when i go into people's houses, you don't get as much of a hassle as you used to get. but you are still respected as a policeman. the public respects us more than they did before. i find in most cases i get a lot more cooperation. i find that more people are at least willing to give you information on the side than they were before. more people are inclined to give you a helping hand. before, very few people were. >> >> i just came to my
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girlfriend's house. >> i remember when i first came on, if you stop the car you immediately -- but when you do gather a crowd, people don't tend to be as hostile. the quality of the rest we are making our much better, there is no doubt about it. i think that we were getting kind of lethargic. we are sitting back and accepting the fact that we are service oriented department, which i think a person is inclined to think we are the beckoned call of people. that is what a lot of us are doing, sitting back waiting to be called. >> unless you want to run him here. >> we are more community relations orientated, more service type department, and i think at the expense of enforcement, law enforcement.
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the so-called service style is not a week approach to the problem at all. if anything it is a stronger approach, we have an effective, alert police department, which does in fact engage in heads up police work, aggressive patrol. that is what the community wants, that is why we exist. >> would you like the department to go back to the head knocking legal estate department used to be? >> no. i don't think anybody wants it to go back that far. not that far. >> why? >> it would just create the same old problems, a hostile society, problems on the simplest of things, just talking to people in the streets, we would not have as much success if we went back to that. >> i believe more than i believe anything, that the officers in this department do in fact want to do and do in
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fact accomplish a very capable level of policing the oakland community. i believe that they support totally the concept that any police organization can only operate in a fair and lawful manner. >> do you think you have to make a choice between community relations and good enforcement? >> no. they work hand in hand. it's obvious that they can. >> ♪ ♪
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wednesday night on american history tv, bringing at eight eastern, pulled sole prize winner recalls the life and leadership of union general and 18th pro student ulysses as grant.
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watch american history tv overnight and on the weekend on c-span 3.

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