Oakland officials, community leaders react after police chief placed on leave

The decision comes after the chief reportedly failed to take action on misconduct allegations by one of of his own officers.

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Saturday, January 21, 2023
Community reacts after Oakland police chief placed on leave
Oakland officials and community leaders are reacting after the mayor's decision to put OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong on leave for "dereliction of duty."

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- In the East Bay, we're getting new reaction from officials and community leaders about the surprising decision to place Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on paid leave, for "dereliction of duty." This comes after the chief reportedly failed to take action on misconduct allegations by one of of his own officers. The Department's assistant chief is now in charge.

"There was a lot of community support to get Armstrong in as chief, I was one of them," said John Jones, III.

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Community advocate John Jones III, has long supported Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong.

"Someone from Oakland, he was aware of certain elements you have to be from here to understand," said Jones.

PREVIOUS REPORT: Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong placed on administrative leave for 'dereliction of duty'

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has been placed on administrative leave, the mayor announced Thursday.

Jones says his support is now wavering.

According to ABC7 I-Team sources, Armstrong was placed on paid administrative leave for "dereliction of duty" after he reportedly failed to take action on a sergeant who ripped the bumper off a neighbor's car during a hit and run accident. That sergeant later fired a gun in an elevator at police headquarters. Those details were released in a report that investigated alleged misconduct by OPD. Oakland's new Mayor Shang Thao and the city administrator made the call to place Armstrong on leave. Both were unavailable for an interview Friday but said in a statement:

"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. We must have transparency and accountability to move forward as a safer and stronger Oakland."

"I was surprised to hear we put the chief on leave, we should be working together as a council to find out what happened," said Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo.

Gallo says he doesn't support the move. Others are calling for independent oversight into the matter.

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"We need a group of civilians who have teeth and really hold this department accountable and until we have that, we're going to see this over and over again," said James Burch from the Anti Police-Terror Project.

The OPD remains under federal oversight, ongoing for 20 years following past cases of brutality and misconduct.

"I've been on the council 10 years and I've seen 10 chiefs," Gallo added.

Former Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick calls it a setback. She was fired in 2020 for reporting alleged misconduct, she filed a lawsuit disputing her termination and won.

MORE: Fired Oakland Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick levels accusations at Mayor Libby Schaaf, police commission

"One of the biggest cancers for law enforcement is the whole issue that officers won't come forward to report misconduct. I came forward and I'm fired for it. So you want to talk about undermining police reform," Kirkpatrick told ABC7 News by phone.

After being sworn in as chief, Armstrong vowed to to get OPD out from under Federal oversight. But many fear this could only extend it. It's unclear if Armstrong will keep his job going forward.

"Whether he's fired or not, it's not my call but you have to stop hiring and firing people, we have to take this seriously. What's it going to take to get this right?," said Jones.

Mayor Thao has scheduled a news conference for Saturday morning to address the issue.

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