In 2003, the Oakland Police Department was placed under a Consent Decree wherein the department was subject to the supervision of a third party acting under the authority of the federal government. The department would need to comply with various recommendations and show marked improvement before the decree would be lifted. The decision to put the OPD under the thumb of the US DOJ had been a long time in the making. Issues of excessive force and officer-involved shootings had been making headlines for years. The actions taken by a group known as “The Riders” faced scrutiny as a rookie officer implicated various officers in beatings and falsified reports. Sadly, these were not anomalous in a city where order overshadowed the law.
The Riders Come Out at Night is an eye-opening investigation into a deeply troubled institution. Authors Ali Winston and Darwin Bondgraham take a fair and even-handed approach in assessing the history and culture that factored into the abuse and corruption that settled into the Oakland Police Department. The authors have written a comprehensive and moving account where there is plenty of blame to go around for the state of policing in Oakland, yet there is the possibility of progress.