New Oakland mayor Sheng Thao is moving fast, placing the city’s police chief LeRonne Armstrong on paid administrative leave just one day after an internal report was made public saying he’s failed to hold officers accountable for misconduct.
A big shock out of Oakland City Hall Thursday night, as KTVU reports that Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong was placed on paid administrative leave, and faces a very uncertain future with the department with which he’s served since 1999, and has been chief of for nearly two years. Oaklandside has the news that it’s a disciplinary action over a scathing report that was made public which that site says showed “Armstrong failed to hold subordinate officers accountable for serious misconduct and allowed a flawed internal affairs investigation to be closed with very little review.”
Mayor Sheng Thao issued a statement yesterday evening clarifying that it was her decision to have City Administrator Ed Reiskin place Chief LeRonne Armstrong on leave.https://t.co/ikorNfVYGt— Darwin BondGraham (@DarwinBondGraha) January 20, 2023
That scathing report is yet another byproduct of the 20-year federal oversight of the Oakland Police Department, which goes back to the “Riders” police misconduct scandal of the early 2000s — and the department has since begat oodles more scandals and run through many chiefs. KTVU obtained a copy of that latest report which is the basis for Armstrong being placed on leave, which U.S. District Judge William Orrick ordered on Wednesday be “publicly disclosed in full.”
An Oakland police sergeant who ripped the bumper off a neighbor’s car and then fired his gun in an elevator – without initially reporting either -- exposed not only individual police misconduct, but "systemic deficiencies" in IA investigations. https://t.co/jQSlkU6VpH— Lisa Fernandez (@ljfernandez) January 19, 2023
That report details the case of an unnamed sergeant who ripped the bumper off someone’s car in a hit-and-run incident, then failed to ever report it. That same officer then reportedly shot his firearm in an elevator of the Police Administration Building, but then removed the evidence, and reportedly threw the shell casings off the Bay Bridge. The officer initially denied that either incident ever took place.
“Some of the deficits appear to stem from a failure of leadership and a lack of commitment to hold members of the Oakland Police Department accountable for violations of its own rules,” the report from outside law firm Clarence Dyer and Cohen LLP says. “These investigations revealed issues and shortcomings that go beyond the conduct of individual officers to the very question of whether the Oakland Police Department is capable of policing itself and effectively holding its own officers accountable for misconduct."
Here’s the statement from Mayor Sheng Thao and City Administrator Ed Reiskin on placing Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on admin leave. pic.twitter.com/b6QUiJBVnE— Sarah Ravani (@SarRavani) January 20, 2023
Mayor Thao and Oakland City Administrator Ed Reiskin moved quickly, placing Armstrong on leave the day after the report was released. “The decision was not taken lightly, but we believe that it is critical for the safety of our community that we build trust and confidence between the Department and the public,” the two said in a joint statement. “We must have transparency and accountability to move forward as a safer and stronger Oakland.”
For now, assistant chief Darren Allison will serve as interim chief of the police. But it will be interesting to see what happens with Armstrong, who very pointedly, has not been fired. KTVU notes that “No one from the city has outlined the process of how – and if – Armstrong can return to his post.” Oaklandside observes that “the decision to place him on leave indicates that the mayor hasn’t made her mind up yet about whether or not to fire him and is waiting on more information.”
And ominously, Mayor Thao added that “additional findings” were forthcoming.
Image: City of Oakland