OPD leaderless after latest scandal
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf began a news conference announcing her third loss of a police chief in just eight days by revealing a fresh scandal rocking the beleaguered department:
“As the mayor of Oakland I am here to run a police department, not a frat house.”
Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa stepped down from his position as Oakland’s top cop after just two days — as an unspecified number of officers are under investigation for sending and receiving racist text messages — making him the third person to do so in the past eight days.
Figueroa was previously assistant chief, but Schaaf said he will return to the Police Department in the lower position of captain:
“He has gone on leave and has asked to return, as is his right, to the position of captain.”
The mayor said she is not appointing another acting chief and instead will have the command staff of the department report to the city administrator, Sabrina Landreth:
“I feel this is an appropriate time to place civilian oversight over this Police Department. … I want to assure the citizens of Oakland that we are hellbound on rooting out this disgusting culture and holding those responsible accountable for their misdeeds.”
Schaaf was asked repeatedly for details about the investigation and the officers involved, but said that she was not at liberty to disclose that information under state law:
“At this time, I don’t want to share any information that would impede my ability to achieve the strongest discipline possible against the officers involved.”
The racist text allegations come after allegations of sexual misconduct between several Oakland police officers and the underage daughter of a police dispatcher that have rocked the department in recent months.
Former Chief Sean Whent resigned on June 9, and interim Chief Ben Rainey was fired on Wednesday by Schaaf.
“This matter is not related to Chief Figueroa that I know of at this time. … It is also not related to the sex scandal.”
When pressed for further details, Schaaf disclosed that some officers seem to have sent racist text messages while others turned a blind eye after receiving them:
“Both of those are serious offenses and all of that will be investigated.”
She also said that this particular scandal is “not as widespread as the sex scandal,” but the investigation has not yet concluded and it would be too soon to provide an estimate of the number of officers involved.