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Politics & Policy

Oakland police union threatens to sue city over ransomware attack

The Oakland Police Officers' Association wants answers about thwarting future ransomware attacks.

With Oakland officials virtually silent about a recent ransomware attack, members of its police department may sue the city, union officials said Monday.

The attack occurred early last month, and officials with the police union maintain that the city administrator and the mayor have not responded to requests to meet.

Union officials want to know about the impacts to city employees, what's being done to mitigate those impacts and what's being done to prevent the same thing from happening again.

"Oakland city leaders talk about accountability, yet there has been zero accountability and a deafening silence for the safety and financial security of the city's valued employees," Oakland Police Officers' Association President Barry Donelan said in a statement.

"This city is truly broken when city employees learn more about the release of their confidential information from the media than their employer, whose incompetence and sloppy security allows these data breaches to occur," Donelan added.

Attorney Rockne Lucia Jr., who is representing the police union, sent a letter dated March 6 to now-former Oakland city administrator G. Harold Duffey. 

Lucia then sent a letter dated March 20 to Mayor Sheng Thao expressing frustration over Duffey's and/or the city administration's lack of response to the March 6 letter.

Lucia asked for dignity and respect for the more than 700 sworn officers the union represents. 

Data belonging to at least several dozen union members became public because of the attack and future disclosures are a real threat, Lucia said in the letter. 

Lucia asked Thao to respond to the letter to her by last Friday and she did not. Lucia said if Thao failed to respond, he is prepared to take legal action.

READ MORE: Oakland Police Warn Residents of Burglars Disguised as Amazon Delivery Drivers

Oakland officials have provided some information for employees on the city's website. Staff also sent letters to current and former employees whose information was obtained by the attackers. 

People who were employees between July 2010 and January 2022 who have not received a letter are urged to email to get information about potential impacts and available resources.

The same employees can contact a call center Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time for information. The phone number is (866) 869-1861. 

Mayoral spokesperson Julie Edwards had no comment on the potential litigation. City spokesperson Jean Walsh had no comment when contacted Monday morning.

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