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Occupy Oakland Report: Independent Investigation Rips Police For Handling Of Occupy Protest (PHOTOS)

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Oakland police officers stand in riot gear hours before an Occupy Oakland protest erupted into violence.
Oakland police officers stand in riot gear hours before an Occupy Oakland protest erupted into violence.

In a damning report released to the public earlier this week, an independent investigation into the Oakland Police Department's handling of last year's Occupy Oakland protests hammered the embattled organization for numerous failures.

The report's criticism's ranged from inadequate preparation to faulty record keeping to employing highly ineffective strategies for dealing with large crowds.

"The crowd control tactics used by OPD are outdated, dangerous and ineffective," it read. "Many assigned investigators and supervisors lack the technical proficiency and, in many cases, the experience to conduct comprehensive, aggressive and unbiased investigations."

Late last year, the city of Oakland hired The Frazier Group, headed by former Baltimore Police Commissioner Thomas Frazier, to look into the methods OPD used to quell an October 25 Occupy protest that exploded into a shocking flurry of violence.

During the incident, Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen suffered a fractured skull from being hit in the head with a bean bag projectile fired by an officer. When other protesters attempted to help him, police sprayed tear gas at the crowd.

The report expressed incredulity that not a single officer claimed to have seen Olsen go down, calling the lack of police witnesses "both unsettling and not believable."

Frazier argued that the problems manifested by OPD's handling of the Occupy protest were systematic to the department. "Years of diminishing resources, increasing workload and failure to keep pace with national current standards and preferred practices led to the cascading elements resulting in the flawed responses," he wrote.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Among other things, the report stated that the department prepared for a 5 a.m. raid and eviction of an Occupy camp of about 100 tents at Frank Ogawa Plaza outside City Hall, but was unprepared for that evening's response by Occupy.

In the morning, the city assigned 392 Oakland officers and 202 officers who came in from other departments to work the raid. That night, only 28 Oakland officers were assigned to the operation plus a couple hundred from other agencies. The Frazier Group called that "insufficient."

Senior Oakland officials said they've been in possession of the report for months and have already begun addressing the majority of its recommendations.

"We're really not afraid of the truth," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told the Oakland Tribune during a press conference on Thursday. "We know it's hard. We know the city has been struggling with reforming some parts of the police department for decades. But I believe that this chief has the courage to make those changes, and we'll stand behind him to make those changes."

As Oakland Local notes, even though the report strongly disapproved of the department's actions on the whole, it declined to single out any individuals for their roles in the proceedings.

Check out these photos from Occupy Oakland protests last fall:

Also on The Huffington Post

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Filed by Aaron Sankin