It looks as if Oakland's Police Department, and the city's administration, have something really weird - not to mention blatantly criminal - going on. If you haven't been following the growing scandal, you'll find a fairly comprehensive timeline here.
Now comes news of the fourth new face at the top of Oakland PD in less than two weeks.
The changes have come as the city deals with two investigations involving its officers: a widening sex scandal and a series of racist text messages sent within the department.
“As the mayor of Oakland, I am here to run a police department, not a frat house,” Mayor Libby Schaaf said at a news conference on Friday.
The sex scandal unfurled after the suicide of one of the department’s officers last fall. An 18-year-old woman has since alleged in several media reports that she had sex with that officer and several others from Oakland and other police departments in the area, including some while she was a minor.
“We continue to be disgusted and outraged by the idea that anyone could abuse an underage victim of sexual exploitation,” Ms. Schaaf said in a statement on June 11.
The police department’s former chief, Sean Whent, resigned on June 9. Mr. Whent’s resignation was “a personal choice, which we respect,” said Ms. Schaaf, who then named Ben Fairow the interim chief. Mr. Fairow had previously worked in the department and was serving as deputy chief for the Bay Area Rapid Transit.
He lasted five days in the job.
“I have just received information that has caused me to lose confidence in Ben Fairow’s ability to lead the Oakland Police Department at this particular moment in time,” the mayor said in a statement on Wednesday, announcing Mr. Fairow’s departure. She did not elaborate on specific reasons for her decision.
The department’s assistant chief, Paul Figueroa, was then named acting police chief. That lasted two days: Mr. Figueroa said in a statement on Friday that he was taking leave and would return to the department as a captain.
“I feel that this is an appropriate time to place civilian oversight over this police department and to send a very clear message about how serious we are about not tolerating misconduct, unethical behavior, and to root out what is clearly a toxic macho culture,” Ms. Schaaf said, in announcing that the city administrator, Sabrina Landreth, will oversee the department while a national search is conducted for a new chief.
The handling of the sex scandal is being reviewed by Oakland’s district attorney and an independent investigator.
There's more at the link.
I note that Oakland PD has an extensive history of problems. It's been operating under Department of Justice oversight since 2003. Even so, this latest round of scandals, with new leaders appearing and disappearing like pinballs ricocheting around a machine, is mind-boggling. What's more, the department's internal issues are well-known.
All I can say is, I'm glad I don't live there. I'd hate to have to entrust my security, and that of my wife, to a department like that.