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Federal court is asked to put Oakland Police Department in receivership

By Erin Geiger Smith

(Reuters) - A group of plaintiffs in a long-running civil rights complaint involving allegations of police brutality asked a federal court on Thursday to put the Oakland Police Department into receivership.

The plaintiffs, who are parties to a consent decree to resolve the allegations, asked U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson of Oakland to take action "because less drastic means have failed to bring the city into compliance with reforms mandated," a court filing said.

The request came as part of litigation first filed in 2000 by a group consisting largely of African-American plaintiffs that complained about a pattern of civil rights abuses by members of the police department, including false arrests and excessive use of force.

Under a 2003 settlement agreement, the Northern California city of about 400,000 people agreed to dozens of police reforms intended to improve supervision, training and accountability within the department.

The court filing said Oakland and its police department had since "chronically failed to come into compliance with critical tasks mandated" by the 2003 settlement and subsequent amended agreements.

Henderson, a veteran judge, has been struggling for nearly 10 years to implement police reforms in Oakland.

John Burris, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said plaintiffs were "fed up with a lack of progress" and that "if an outside person comes in, we can bring about real change sooner rather than later."

Officials at the Oakland Police Department were not immediately available to comment.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

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