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Oakland police chief is out. Mayor cites report on officer misconduct

A man in police uniform stands in front of a backdrop that says "Oakland Police."
Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong takes questions at a December 2021 news conference at police headquarters in Oakland.
(Jane Tyska / Digital First Media / East Bay Times via Getty Images)
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Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao fired city Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong on Wednesday after an investigation into Armstrong’s handling of police misconduct cases.

“I am no longer confident that Chief Armstrong can do the work needed,” Thao said at an afternoon news conference announcing his dismissal.

Armstrong had been on administrative leave for nearly a month after an outside report found that the department had failed to adequately discipline an officer following multiple allegations of misconduct in recent years.

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The report highlighted an incident in 2021 in which a sergeant crashed his vehicle into another car and drove away. The officer did not report the incident. The second was a 2022 case in which the same sergeant fired his gun inside a freight elevator at a police building. Again, no one reported the incident.

The report, written by attorneys at law firm Clarence Dyer & Cohen, blamed Armstrong for not effectively reviewing evidence from the cases before ending the investigations.

The city hired the firm last year to look into alleged officer misconduct and the Oakland Police Department’s response.

Since being placed on leave, Armstrong had publicly demanded immediate reinstatement to his position, saying he didn’t do anything wrong and had followed all department policies and protocols.

The L.A. County D.A.’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the behavior of probation officers who dogpiled a 17-year-old boy in video first revealed by The Times.

Feb. 15, 2023

The Oakland Police Department has been under federal oversight for two decades in the wake of a police corruption scandal in the early 2000s. The federal judge overseeing the case placed the department on a one-year probation period in the spring, signaling an end to the oversight might be near.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Thao said Armstrong’s statements after going on leave “troubled” her. She added that the federal overseer of the department was “profoundly disappointed” in what the report found.

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“In order to finally bring an end to Oakland’s federal oversight — and not risk the investments we’ve made for over 20 years,” Thao said, “it’s an absolute requirement that my administration, including the chief of police, be able to work closely with the monitoring team and speak credibly before the court.”

Armstrong was appointed chief by then-Mayor Libby Schaaf in February 2021 to replace Anne Kirkpatrick, who was fired in a move that led to a jury finding last year that she was wrongfully terminated for whistleblowing.

Times staff writer Rebecca Ellis contributed to this story.

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