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Book Calls Oakland A Learning Opportunity For Police Reform

The cause of police reform has slipped down the political agenda and action from Capitol Hill is improbable now that Republicans control the House. A bipartisan push for modest changes from Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) failed and some steam has gone out of the reform movement since the national and international protests over the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. On top of all that, crime rates have been on the rise in many major cities, especially during the worst years of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 and 2021, The Hill reports. Now, a new book is making the case for reform, even as it illuminates how difficult true change is to achieve. “The Riders Come Out at Night” tells the story of the scandal-plagued Oakland Police Department and the battle for reform.

The book’s title refers to the self-chosen name of a renegade group of cops whose existence came to light more than 20 years ago after a rookie colleague, Keith Batt, went public with what he had seen. “He witnessed egregious abuses and crimes while on duty — framing suspects, shooting a dog, planting narcotics on people, beating confessions out of them,” said one of the book’s co-authors, Ali Winston. The allegations — especially because they were made by someone who had served within the police department, albeit briefly — caused outrage when they became public. Twice, criminal trials involving members of “The Riders” ended with the jury deadlocking on some charges and acquitting on others. The city of Oakland settled a related civil rights lawsuit for almost $11 million in 2003.


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