3rd Oakland, Calif., Police Chief Steps Down in Only 8 Days; Mayor Appoints Woman to Oversee Dept.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on May 2, 2015
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on May 2, 2015
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

The city of Oakland, Calif., has lost its third police chief in eight days, the clearest indication that the rot of impropriety in the department is large and widespread.

On Friday, acting Police Chief Paul Figueroa stepped down after two days on the job. Figueroa was appointed to replace Interim Chief Ben Fairow on Wednesday after Mayor Libby Schaaf said she had received information that made her question Fairow’s ability to lead, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Fairow’s tenure as Oakland’s top cop lasted just six days. He had been appointed to replace Chief Sean Whent, who resigned in the wake of a sex scandal that reportedly involves a teenage sex worker.


Figueroa said that his decision was not connected to any scandal. In a statement released Friday, Figueroa said, “I thank the city for the opportunity, and I am deeply sorry that I was unable to fulfill the functions of acting chief of police.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf called the department’s culture “macho,” “toxic” and “disgusting” and said she vowed to root out “the bad apples.” She also said that she is “hoping not to have to fire anyone else soon.”

“As the mayor of Oakland, I’m here to run a police department, not a frat house,” Schaaf said at a news conference Friday evening, according to USA Today.

Schaaf then appointed a civilian—and a woman—to oversee the Oakland P.D. The command staff will report to City Administrator Sabrina Landreth, who will be responsible for personnel and disciplinary decisions, the report notes.

“This is the appropriate time to install civilian oversight in this Police Department,” Schaaf said. “I want to assure the citizens of Oakland that we are hell-bent on rooting out this disgusting culture.”


Mayor Schaaf also announced Friday a separate investigation into racist text messages from officers. Some of the officers being investigated were “engaging in hate speech,” and others were “tolerating it” by receiving offensive messages and not reporting them. One of the officers under investigation in the text scandal has been placed on leave, she said.

Schaaf says that this scandal is not as large as the sex scandal, which involves at least 14 officers. Two have resigned, and three others remain on paid leave.


In addition to these two ongoing disgraces, the beleaguered police force is under federal oversight for failing to discipline officers who planted evidence and robbed residents of the predominantly black area of West Oakland.

Read more at USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

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