Oakland Police Department could soon have new chief as mayor considers 3 finalists

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Tuesday, December 19, 2023
Oakland PD could soon have new chief as mayor considers finalists
Oakland Police Department could soon have a new chief as Mayor Sheng Thao is considering between three finalists selected by the police commission.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The long wait in Oakland may finally be coming to an end. Ten months after losing yet another police chief, the city's police commission has sent a list of three candidates for Mayor Sheng Thao to consider.

"Just get it done. This has been an arcane process," said Barry Donelan.

Donelan is the president of the Oakland Police Officers Association.

He says the long period of uncertainty without a chief has cost both the department and the city itself.

All of it coming during a year where crime has continued to rise.

MORE: Search for Oakland police chief officially includes LeRonne Armstrong

"We need stability in the organization. We need stability when it comes to addressing crime. And we need a plan," Donelan said.

Whoever is ultimately chosen will have a monumental task ahead of them says Lisa Hill - a criminal justice professor and policing expert at Cal State East Bay.

"I think it's really important that the mayor gets this right," she said.

Hill tells me after years of going through multiple chiefs, internal dysfunction within the department and sometimes strained relations with Oakland city leaders, whoever leads OPD next will have to work hard to rebuild community trust.

"Oakland is a unique city. So just picking a chief with leadership skills is good, but I think you're going to need a unique chief," Hill said.

MORE: Oakland mayor says she won't rehire LeRonne Armstrong as OPD chief

And it's not just the community relationship that needs to be rebuilt, according to Hill.

After former Chief LeRonne Armstrong's controversial firing in Feb., Hill believes the new chief could also have to address dissatisfaction within OPD ranks too.

"Whoever is taking on this department, potentially is taking on a split department. There are still some folks that are loyal to the outgoing chief," Hill said.

That's why Hill believes one thing Mayor Thao will be looking for is adaptability.

"Are they evolving with their officers, with society as a whole, with the way crime is happening, the whole societal picture?"

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