1st community forum held on choosing Oakland Police Department's next chief

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Sunday, August 6, 2023
1st community forum held on choosing OPD's next chief
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The first of five community forums was held Saturday to get public input on choosing OPD's next police chief.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The first of five community forums was held Saturday to get public input on choosing Oakland Police Department's next police chief.

"I think we need someone who is extremely brave, fearless and truthful," said Thomas Leach.

There were lots of ideas about what qualities Oakland's next police chief should possess.

"A person has to realize this is a very difficult job," said Assata Olugbala.

MORE: 'Violence is growing': Oakland community advocates search for solutions amid rising crime

A small but vocal group was at the first community forum, hosted by the Oakland Police Commission, to let the public to weigh in about OPD's next leader.

"We want to get input about what kind of chief the community wants to see and what priorities they want that chief to undertake in the first 90 days to six months," said Oakland Police Commission Chairperson Tyfahra Milele.

Priorities like reducing crime.

The OPD says since January, violent crime is up 15% compared to the same time last year.

MORE: Oakland residents raise crime concerns at packed public safety meeting with police, DA

"So he's got to have an understanding of what crime is, how it works and where it comes from. There's a lot of research on that. I hope our next chief has that research," said Wilson Riles.

Others want the next chief to reflect the values of Oakland.

"So whoever that chief is, male or female, they need to have a passion for people," said Thomas Leach.

Oakland has been without a chief since February, when Mayor Sheng Thao fired LeRonne Armstrong after an independent investigation found he failed to hold some of his officers accountable for misconduct.

MORE: Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong files official appeal to dispute firing

Some Oakland businesses that have been the target of recent break-ins, like Blum dispensary on West Grand Avenue, are standing up to crime and sounding off about the next police chief.

Anisa Sandoval says thieves drove into Blum dispensary last Sunday and stole product. The store held a solidarity event Saturday with Colonial Donuts, which was also hit. Sandoval says the next chief should lead with accountability.

"Just responding quickly. I don't know if anyone showed up that day we were broken into or took a police report," Sandoval said.

After the public forums, the police commission will select four police chief candidates. That list will be sent to the mayor, who will make the final decision.

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