Oakland SWAT captain wants reassignment

May 13, 2009 6:45:12 PM PDT
A shake-up may be coming in the Oakland Police Department. The captain of the SWAT team wants out, after losing the confidence of the people he leads.

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It is a change that began on that day in March when four Oakland officers were killed.

Captain Ed Tracey gave an emotional eulogy at the funeral of the four fallen officers, but law enforcement sources told ABC7 Tracey is now asking to be reassigned from his post as the department's SWAT team leader.

During a recent meeting, rank and file SWAT officers told Tracey they've lost confidence in him. Their main complaint was that Tracey decided to stay at the hospital to console grieving family members of the two officers who were fatally shot during a routine traffic stop, rather than be with the SWAT team at the raid on an East Oakland apartment where shooter Lovelle Mixon had fled.

Two SWAT sergeants were killed when they entered the building, and Mixon was later shot dead.

Department spokesman Officer Jeff Thomason said Tracey still has his job for now.

"He remains there today. He will remain there for the near future," said Thomason.

But for exactly how long is unknown. A restructuring in the department's top brass is on the horizon, and sources say Tracey could get the new role he's requested.

"There are captains going to be transferred around in our department, not because of this incident, just because of reorganization issues," said Thomason.

Oakland's SWAT team hasn't handled a call since the shooting, now known as the deadliest day in Oakland police history. Alameda County sheriff deputies are filling in temporarily.

ABC7 tried to ask Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums about it, but he said he still has questions too.

"I want to sit down with the police chief and get a face-to-face conversation about this. I think my comments at this point would be rather premature," said mayor Dellums.

Former San Francisco Police Chief Tony Ribera said another SWAT team leader taking Tracey's place likely made the call to storm the building that day.

"I'm sure the captain, if he thought he absolutely had to be there would have been there," said Ribera.

But officers also were in the fight of their lives.

"They probably felt they needed their top guy there," said Ribera.

All of this comes as officers received a briefing from the police department on exactly what happened the day of the police shooting. Department officials said that was to combat some of the misinformation that is out there on things like how the officers were shot.

All of that information right now remains internal, and the department has convened a panel of experts to conduct another review of what happened the night of March 21st, and that information will be made public.

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