The embattled, controversial, and less-than-effective Oakland Police Department made headlines again yesterday when Chief of Police Howard Jordan abruptly announced his retirement. The official word was that he is on medical leave, and will be seeking retirement for "medical reasons," but the timing suggests otherwise. The timing of the announcement was also a surprise to Mayor Jean Quan, who was expecting to be attending a press conference yesterday with Jordan and consultant Bill Bratton to announce a new crime reduction plan.
Bratton, a former police commissioner in New York and L.A., was hired in December to help craft a crime reduction strategy following a year of uptick in Oakland's homicide and violent crime count.
It's unclear what exactly may have prompted Jordan's abrupt departure, but the best guess probably isn't medical. As Oakland North reports, just last week, the OPD's compliance director, Thomas Frazier, released a damning report criticizing the department's command structure and their handling of police misconduct investigations. Also last week there was a damning piece in the Tribune comparing the number of fatal shootings at the hands of Oakland officers to those in other crime-ridden cities.
Jordan has presided over a department routinely criticized by the public for incidents like their street battles with Occupy protesters, violating the rights of members of the media and others, and bragging about the arrests of "most wanted" criminals who turn out not to be criminals at all.
Quan says she thinks the city will have hiring authority for a new police chief, however because the department has a court-appointed federal monitor stemming back to misconduct case of the "Riders" a decade ago that monitor may want to have a say in the new hire. In the meantime, Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio will serve as Acting Chief.
Sounding eager to get on with a fresh start and new hire, City Councilmember Desley Brooks said, "Godspeed with whatever medical issue he has.”