cover image The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption and Cover Up in Oakland

The Riders Come Out at Night: Brutality, Corruption and Cover Up in Oakland

Ali Winston and Darwin BondGraham. Atria, $30 (480p) ISBN 978-1-982168-59-9

Reporters Winston and BondGraham debut with a comprehensive look at why the Oakland, Calif., police department has been under federal oversight for two decades, longer than any other department in the country. Sketching the history of Oakland’s insular “cop culture” from early crackdowns on labor movements through the war on drugs, the authors spotlight the Riders, a group of police officers who abused and framed predominantly Black suspects in the 1990s. Rookie police officer Keith Batt exposed four of the Riders, leading to their expulsion from the force (though none were convicted of misconduct charges), and civil rights attorneys Jim Chanin and John Burris sued the department on behalf of 119 victims, resulting in the 2003 “consent decree” requiring reforms under the supervision of independent monitors. In granular detail, the authors describe the fits and starts of the department’s efforts at reform, taking note of improvements in diversity training and transparency, as well as fatal police shootings of unarmed suspects, a botched SWAT team raid that resulted in four officers’ deaths, and other scandals. Though occasionally plodding, this impressive work of reportage highlights the challenges of changing police culture. Agent: David Patterson, Stuart Krichevsky Literary. (Jan.)