A week after Oakland police held a news conference to draw attention to Mayor Jean Quan’s primary crime-fighting strategy, authorities refused to identify eight men they arrested as part of the program or say what crimes the suspects are accused of committing, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Police said that identifying the eight, arrested as part of the Operation Ceasefire initiative to fight violence in Oakland, would harm their investigation and could put the suspects at risk of retaliation from rival groups. Operation Ceasefire seeks to curb violence by offering social services and support to members of gangs or cliques.
Experts said refusing to disclose identities for more than a week is not a common practice. “I would say it is unusual,” said Tony Ribera, a former San Francisco police chief who runs the International Institute of Criminal Justice Leadership at the University of San Francisco. “I certainly can’t think of a situation (where I did it), but that certainly doesn’t mean they are doing anything illegal. I don’t know how they are building their cases.” Said Peter Scheer of the First Amendment Coalition: “The very basic rule of law in the United States is that people do not disappear into the hands of police. They do not disappear into the justice system. It is a fundamental principle in this country that the police have to be transparent about who they have arrested and why.”