Oakland mayor names Howard Jordan as interim chief

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan named Howard Johnson as interim police chief on Thursday.
October 13, 2011 8:56:58 PM PDT
Oakland's mayor has decided, for now, who will fill the role of police chief following the resignation of former Police Chief Anthony Batts.

The interim chief is Howard Jordan, a police department veteran who has done the job before. Jordan has been with the department for 23 years and has served in almost every capacity.

"I bring to you a very well-rounded, balanced chief," Jordan said. "As interim chief, I intend to make solid decisions. The term 'interim' will not apply to my decisions."

In the same room where Jordan made his announcement was Batts, who announced his resignation after serving just two years. Batts said he was frustrated and felt his authority as chief was undermined by city officials.

It was no secret that Batts and Mayor Jean Quan often had conflicting views. On Thursday, Quan said she had full confidence in the interim chief.

"I saw Howard taken on every tough job that the city had," Quan said, "whether it was drugs or whether it was SWAT teams."

Jordan will take charge of an undersized police force which is facing a budget crunch and a rising murder rate. Jordan will also face a city council which expedited Batts' departure by setting aside three of his main crime-fighting measures, gang injunctions, curfews and beefing up a loitering law.

All of this was not lost on police union president Sgt. Dom Arotzarena.

"It's all about the tools you've been given," Arotzarena said. "You have to let the chief be the chief. That's really what the sentiment in there really is."

Former San Francisco Police Chief Tony Ribera now heads a law enforcement think tank. Ribera said chiefs need to demand conditions before they accept the job in order to succeed.

"If the political leadership is not committed to giving them that support they need to be effective, then you shouldn't accept the job," Ribera said.

Quan wanted to appoint someone quickly, as the City of Oakland must report back to a federal judge in January and tell the judge how much progress Oakland has made in reforming their police department. The department has been under a federal consensus decree for nine years following the riders' scandal in which several officers were accused of misconduct.


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