Mayor Quan names new Oakland police, fire chiefs

February 1, 2012 5:32:40 PM PST
The city of Oakland announced new leaders of both the police and fire departments Wednesday and one of them has a long history with the city.

"Today is an amazingly exciting day for the city of Oakland," Mayor Jean Quan said. In perhaps a welcome respite from large budget cuts and violent demonstrations, she announced that her city has two new top officials.

"I promise to work hard for the people of Oakland," Teresa Reed said, becoming the first African American female fire chief of a large metropolitan city. And, interim police Chief Howard Jordan is now the permanent head of a department facing possible receivership from the federal government, serious understaffing, and an ongoing battle with increasingly-violent Occupy demonstrators.

"There is no better time than the current time for us to demonstrate that we are capable of policing this city in the manner in which the citizens expect us to police," Jordan said.

Jordan's appointment comes after 24 years with the Oakland police department and two separate stints as interim chief. In March 2009, he presided over the funerals of four officers gunned down in one day. Last year, three days after Jordan replaced Anthony Batts, tents sprung up on Frank Ogawa Plaza. The future, may present his biggest challenges yet.

"I'm not going to say that we're going to change our tactics because if demonstrators show up and they want to confront the police and be disruptive and cause violence, then we have an obligation to protect our citizens, protect ourselves, and protect property in the city of Oakland," he said.

Reed went to Oakland from the San Jose department. As an assistant chief there, she dealt with station closures and the layoff of more than 40 firefighters. As a 22 year-resident of Oakland, she knows well the challenges facing this community. "To change maybe some of the mindsets of this is how we always did it, because change is coming and we're going to have to look at how we're going to evolve with that," she told ABC7.

Both new chiefs will have to do what they can with minimal staffing. Jordan pointed out Wednesday that the first time he was interim chief in Oakland, he had 200 more officers on the street.