Oakland fire captain accused of possessing child pornography

A captain in the Oakland Fire Department has been arrested on suspicion of possessing child pornography, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday.

Richard Chew, 58, was arrested Wednesday as authorities served a search warrant on his Lafayette home following an investigation by the Contra Costa Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, authorities said on Facebook.

During the search, authorities said they found child pornography on Chew’s computer and other storage devices.

Chew has been charged and is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail.

The department has been without a permanent chief since May. On Thursday, interim Chief Darin White released a statement regarding Chew’s arrest.

“I am appalled by the disturbing nature of these charges. When we learned of the investigation, I immediately placed the employee in question on administrative leave,” White said. “If the allegations are true, this criminal behavior violates our community’s standard of decency and breaches the standard of conduct we uphold in the Oakland Fire Department. I appreciate the swift professionalism with which the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Department handled this matter.”

Both Oakland’s police and fire department have been under increased scrutiny for more than a year amid separate scandals.

Last year, more than 30 people died in a fire inside a warehouse that had been illegally converted into a residential artist community.

It was revealed that fire inspectors had rarely visited the property, despite being stationed nearby. Department officials blamed the lax oversight, in part, on poor staffing. The fire chief retired months later.

Meanwhile, the dust has yet to settle on a sex scandal that has ensnared a dozen Oakland police officers along with sheriff’s deputies and police from neighboring Bay Area agencies. Oakland settled a lawsuit with the woman at the heart of the scandal for $1 million earlier this year, though lawsuits against other agencies are still outstanding.

joseph.serna@latimes.com

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