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Breaking through the Blue Wall of Silence


A protestor at a January 2009 demonstration against the killing of Oscar Grant by BART Police in Oakland, CA.

A protestor at a January 2009 demonstration against the killing of Oscar Grant by BART Police in Oakland, CA.

Who polices the police? Do you or your neighbors have any say in the way your town’s cops and sheriffs do business? For more than 35 years, cities around the country have been creating civilian oversight agencies – trying to make local police and sheriffs accountable to the communities they serve. On this edition, producer Andrew Stelzer takes a look at the ongoing battle between the people and the police – and the debate over who gets to decide when an officer has done something wrong.

This program was a special collaboration between National Radio Project and Spot.Us, a community funded reporting project. Check out the print version of this story here.


Barbara Attard, civilian oversight consultant, former San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints investigator and former Berkeley Police Review Commission Director; Marcel Diallo, artist and victim of police harassment; Rashidah Grinage, PUEBLO Executive Director; Jason Wechter, NACOLE Board Member; Reginald Lyles, BART consultant and former Berkeley Police Officer; Gary Gee, BART Police Chief; Jesse Sekhon, BART Police Officers Association President; Quintin Mecke, California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s Communications Director; Greg Kaufory, attorney; Omar Osirus, Jan, and Bo, protestors; Daniel Buford, Allen Temple Baptist Church Reverend; Joyce Hicks, San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints Director and former Oakland’s Citizens Police Review Board Director; Patrick Cacares, Oakland Citizens Police Review Board acting director; Paulette Hogan, tasered Oakland resident who filed complaint with Internal Affairs; Chris Shannon, Oakland Police Lieutenant; Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s uncle; Mark Kroeker, Portland Police Chief.

For More Information:

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police

Berkeley Police Review Commission
1947 Center Street
Berkeley, CA 94704

California State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
PO Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249

Justice For Oscar Grant Committee

Oakland Citizens’ Police Review Board
City Hall
One Frank Ogawa Plaza, 11th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE)
638 East Vermont Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

People United For a Better Oakland (PUEBLO)
1728 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94612

Portland Copwatch
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242

San Francisco Office of Citizen Complaints
25 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94102

Blogs, Articles, Links:

NACOLE list of Civilian Oversight Agencies

US Dept of Justice Report:
Citizen Review of Police: Approaches and Implementation. March 2001

City of Berkeley Police Review Commission 2004 report

Justice for Kendra James Community Information

Author: Kwan

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  1. Andrew Stelzer: Radio & Print Journalist - [...] documentary, which aired on Making Contact, received an award for best explanatory journalism from the Northern California Society of…

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