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Oakland Police Chief On Paid Leave After Officer Misconduct Probe

Oakland’s police chief is on administrative leave after a federal judge made public a scathing report of officer misconduct identified in three confidential investigations, reports Courthouse News Service. Chief LeRonne Armstrong is now on leave after findings that officers under him concealed their involvement in dangerous public incidents, including a traffic collision in 2021 and a gun being fired in an elevator in 2022. The police department has been under a federal monitor for more than two decades after scandals involving multiple police officers, including alleged police brutality and sexual assault. Last summer, U.S. District Judge William Orrick signaled that an end to the monitor could be in sight as the police department was placed on "probation," with one year to comply with negotiated settlement requirements. An independent legal firm has investigated several incidents occurring in 2021 and 2022. Local advocates and lawyers have expressed concern that the police department has not made necessary changes in management to win back public trust.

Investigators detailed a March 2021 incident where a sergeant crashed his vehicle, left the scene, and did not report the incident. The Internal Affairs Division concluded he had not violated a rule requiring obedience to law for what amounted to a hit and run. In April 2022, the same officer fired his gun in an elevator at the Police Administration Building in Oakland, removed evidence and did not report it for more than a week. The independent law firm reviewed both incidents and found additional potential misconduct involving the Criminal Investigation Division investigation. The report urges the police department to require officers at multiple levels to recuse themselves from misconduct investigations if they were directly involved in incidents or have relationships with involved parties, and document all briefings on the cases. Internal Affairs was advised to develop a policy requiring investigators to include all violations in final reports, and the Chief of Police must read reports of investigations before signing them. The report found that police officers regularly use their personal cell phones for work-related purposes, while on active duty and while off-duty, and multiple officers use personal cell phones for “everything” work-related. “This haphazard use of personal and work telephones raises serious concerns about the deletion of evidence, and there appears to be little regard for the need to preserve evidence that may be critical in regular police work as well as Internal Affairs investigations that arise,” the report said. The report also said the department must review and improve all policies, practices and training regarding criminal misconduct investigations, given that the investigation revealed “systemic failures far larger and more serious than the actions of one police officer.”


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