Is it something in the water in Oakland?

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.



  1. While I understand the loose, imprecise use of many terms, it is important to remember that anyone not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is a civilian. Unless also attached to a military organization, this includes police officers. Let's not blur those lines quite so much.

  2. Among cops there's a phrase: "You're not born until you're sworn," referring to the tribe of sworn LEOs, as opposed to the "other" – non-sworn personnel who staff and support LE agencies. LE is a very incestuous field: cops associate primarily with other cops, promotions typically are entirely inside each agency, all of which contributes to containing LE personnel within the "LE bubble."

    There's widespread belief that "only a 20-year cop can run a cop agency": I contend that is completely incorrect. Law enforcement is a service delivery business, providing law enforcement services to the residents and visitors of the jurisdiction in which that LE agency operates. As such, it is a business operating under specific operating procedures, called "laws," "regulations," and "agency policies."

    Just as UPS and FedEx measure their employees' mobile delivery performance, Whirlpool Corporation measures production volumes and product quality goals achieved by their manufacturing employees, and the Mayo Clinic measures its doctors' time utilization and patient performace, law enforcement agencies can do the same.

    I don't doubt there are particular problems with the Oakland PD; the city of Oakland has become someplace sensible people avoid, and it's not a surprise that at least some of its public agencies may contribute to that. Perhaps it's time for the mayor of Oakland to broaden her search for competent management personnel who have not grown up within the Sworn Brotherhood.

  3. I would not expect much from the Mayor of Oakland. Out of control police are a symptom of wide and deep municipal corruption. Without root and branch civic reform, any changes at the police department will be cosmetic in nature.

    Like New Orleans, corruption has been growing more than a hundred years. 25 year of honest government in the bay area would cause profound social and economic change, probably equal to that forced by a major earthquake.

    My own belief is that the initial cost of corruption in a major port is largely born by the shipping industry, with small effect locally. Unchecked, it become endemic in every branch of regional government. Oakland and New Orleans are good examples of the results a few generations later.

  4. Let me guess… the elected officials of Oakland, like 'Frisco and the State govt. Are all Democrats, yes? (sigh) I was born in Pleasanton, thirty miles east of Oakland, also Alameda Co. It is a beautiful region, and was a great place as I remember growing up, but politically the whole damn state has taken on the air of Mordor. It's not much better in Maryland where I live now, and I can't afford to get out from behind "Enemy Lines", to a more free part of the country.
    At the rate crap is going, with our Presidential race now officially a carnival with the clowns in charge, corruption rampant all over govt. "Service", all I can think is, "This will NOT end well". At least my sons are grown to manhood, and fending for themselves.
    The Chinese curse, "May you live in Interesting times!" Is in full play….

  5. Corrupt Police, fueled by drug money.

    New ones come in, all eager and shiney…then get the message:

    Lead or silver..(take the money or get the lead) and then you get the state you are in now…

    The citizens are afraid, as half (or more) are ex cons or can lose their welfare/ebt/benefits if they piss off the right people (cops especially) and you have what you have there.

    It doesn't happen in more affluent areas. People (of all races) won't put up with it….truly, the issues never start. It is only in poor areas that it begins. The poor can't stop the slow creep of corruption, and the poor vote for the Liberal politicians who in turn profit from such corruption…and then add to it. allowing it to grow worse.

    Add in a HUGE union presence and the cops can't even police their own.

    They then become, effectively, just another gang, only this one has uniforms and badges and powers of the law….And is paid by the Taxpayer.

    Expect to see more and more like this.

  6. Gaaaaaaahhhh! Again! Edit because autocorrect needs to freaking die…

    I hadn't read the mayor's statement…did she seriously say "toxic macho culture"? As in "toxic masculinity" the radfem shibboleth that imbeciles like Anita Sarkeesian, Laurie Penny, and Gloria Steinem use? Wow. I was disturbed and depressed before, now I'm just…even more disturbed and depressed! Also pessimistic about Oakland ' s chances of not ending up like Detroit… God help them.

  7. Part of the problem is that CA does not mandate that officers are to live in the community they work in. They aren't even required to live in the same county!

    I doubt that ANY of Oakland's police live anywhere in that city. I've been told that a lot of them live in San Jose, which is at the other end of the Bay, about 50 miles away.

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