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

Saturday, January 21, 2023
Major shakeup in Oakland Police Dept. as chief is put on leave
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Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has been placed on administrative leave, the mayor announced Thursday.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has been placed on paid administrative leave for "dereliction of duty." That according to ABC7 News I-Team sources who say he 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 the department elevator. Those details were released in a report that investigated alleged misconduct by OPD. This in relation to the federal oversight of the Oakland Police Department, which has been ongoing for 20 years.

"What we have here is the allegation that the chief either looked the other way, or didn't follow through on an investigation into misconduct by one of his sergeants. Doesn't look good for the department," said ABC7 News insider Phil Matier. He says the move, made by newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao and the city administrator, puts Oakland's leadership front and center.

"This is also the first big challenge that the new Mayor Sheng Thao is facing. She barely just got sworn in and already the police chief is in trouble. It's gonna be one of the biggest decisions she's made is how she handles this," says Matier.

MORE: Recently retired Oakland deputy chief worried about future of policing amid rising crime rates

Oakland City councilmembers learned of the actions taken against Armstrong during a private session at City Hall.

"My hope going forward is that the community can see this as a part of the city's efforts to address transparency in all city departments," said Oakland District 4 Councilmember Janani Ramachandran.

"When we're talking about accountability, when we're talking about transparency, it's just the logical course of action to have an outside independent investigating process," said Oakland District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife.

It's that investigation process of the Oakland Police Department that those with the Anti-Police Terror Project are questioning.

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

MORE: Despite calls to defund police, Oakland PD's budget increased nearly 18% since 2019, I-Team found

Insider Phil Matier says some question why there have been 10 police chiefs in Oakland in the last 10 years.

"There's long suspicion about, are people trying to prolong this federal oversight of the department for their own personal gains? And that's one of the questions here, are these rotating chiefs justified or is it some sort of politics going on with the court?" said Matier.

Statement from Mayor Thao and City Administrator Reiskin on Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong:

Tonight Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao and City Administrator Ed Reiskin announced that Oakland's Chief of Police LeRonne Armstrong has been placed on paid administrative leave after reviewing reports issued by Clarence Dyer & Cohen LLP. Effective immediately, Assistant Chief Darren Allison will serve as Acting Chief of the Oakland Police Department.

"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."

"Oakland and its Police Department have taken the negotiated settlement agreement very seriously and undertaken a number of steps to improve our systems for accountability and transparency. As part of that resolve, we have to hold officers accountable when they violate the public trust."

Last year, the City of Oakland retained an independent law firm to investigate alleged misconduct by Oakland Police Department personnel as well as the department's investigation into the misconduct. The City received reports yesterday, January 18th, and understands that additional findings are forthcoming. This remains an ongoing personnel matter and as such the City and its leadership are not at liberty to comment further at this time.

MORE: 7 in 10 Oakland residents feel less safe than they did 2 years ago, survey shows

Oakland city councilmember at-large Rebecca Kaplan released the following statement:

"The Independent Monitor's report proves that investigations of police misconduct should be handled independently and by civilians. OPD should not be in charge of investigating themselves. Council has previously voted tor that change."

Oakland Police Officers' Association President Barry Donelan said:

"Despite the decision to place Chief Armstrong on administrative leave, Oakland residents can be assured that its dedicated police officers will continue to respond to their calls for help."

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