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Oakland Police Chief Fired Over Handling of Discipline Cases

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, the city's 10th chief in as many years, was fired by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao nearly one month after he was placed on an administrative leave that Armstrong publicly protested, The Oaklandside reports. Thao said she was "no longer confident that Chief Armstrong can do the work needed" to run the department, following a report that deemed him responsible for multiple failures in the department's discipline system. The report's summary by the law firm Clarence Dyer Cohen, commissioned by the city, was made public in January by the federal judge who oversees OPD’s reform program. The investigation also included three confidential reports that contained details about misconduct by multiple officers, including Armstrong. Thao said she also decided to fire Armstrong based on his reaction to the outside investigation and his denials that the law firm’s findings reflected serious problems in the department.


After he was placed on administrative leave — a move Thao said was not meant as a punishment — Armstrong hired a crisis consultant and attorney and publicly demanded his job back while criticizing the investigation. He also attended a rally to demand his reinstatement, and he accused OPD’s federal court monitor Robert Warshaw of corruption, claiming Warshaw orchestrated the investigation in order to oust him and maintain his role for which he and his team are paid nearly $700,000 per year. Thao said that after having a chance to review the confidential reports about the police misconduct cases, and how Armstrong handled these, she came to the conclusion there are “systemic issues” within OPD that need to be addressed. In a statement, Armstrong said, “After the relevant facts are fully evaluated by weighing evidence instead of pulling soundbites from strategically leaked, inaccurate reports, it will be clear I was a loyal and effective reformer of the Oakland Police Department. It will be equally clear that I committed no misconduct, and my termination is fundamentally wrong, unjustified, and unfair. I anticipate releasing a more detailed statement soon once I have the chance to fully digest the Mayor’s remarks.” In one case cited by the outside investigators, the leader of a Chinatown crime suppression operation was given preferential treatment by his supervisors at OPD and his disciplinary violations, including firing a gun in an elevator at police headquarters, were downgraded so that he wouldn't be fired.

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