The search for a new Oakland Police Department Chief has now dragged into its tenth month, and is apparently down to three final candidates, but it’s unclear if fired former chief LeRonne Armstrong is one of them.
Last February’s firing of Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong was messy, with a months-long PR campaign to get him rehired, and more potential corruption fallout from the alleged internal affairs cover-up that got him fired. But the now-ten-month search for Armstrong’s replacement has also been messy, with Oakland Police commissioners boycotting their own meetings in what may have been an attempt to reinstate Armstong, and Mayor Sheng Thao threatening a state of emergency because the search is going so slowly.
You would think that this mess is sorting itself out with the news from Oaklandside that the Oakland Police Commission voted 5-1 last week to recommend a short list of three candidates. But the one ‘no’ vote, commissioner Wilson Riles Jr., did so for reasons that indicate Armstong may be on that short list. He said the process was “corrupted” when the commission announced in an October press release that they were down to seven candidates, naming Armstrong as one of them, and curiously not naming any of the others.
That seems to be why Riles voted no on sending the final list to Mayor Thao. “Even though not sending them to the mayor would mean the commission wouldn’t fulfill the charter requirements, I think that that’s a better choice since the mayor’s intention is to declare an emergency and do the recruitment herself,” Riles told Oaklandside. “I think that will bring a better outcome than the candidates that we are sending.”
The three candidate names have not been made public.
Thao’s office is keeping a tight lip on the matter. "This is an important decision, and Mayor Thao will take the time that is necessary to select the person that will lead the Oakland Police Department," her office said in a statement to KTVU. "Finding the right leader for the police department is a priority and Mayor Thao intends to conduct this process in a timely manner,"
Thao has already said publicly that she would not rehire Armstrong, so it may be a moot point whether he’s on the list. But the fact that past commission decisions have explicitly promoted Armstrong as a candidate have made Armstrong’s comeback bids a political headache for Thao. And they may have kept him on there in the final list, just in hopes of making her headaches continue.
Related: Could LeRonne Armstrong Get Reinstated as Oakland Police Chief? Arbitrator Clears Him of Wrongdoing [SFist]
Image: Oakland, California, United States -
July 08, 2019: Text reading Oakland Police above doorway to police station in downtown Oakland, California, July 8, 2019 (Getty Images)