A new report from retired California judge Maria P. Rivera recommends that Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao meet with the police chief she fired seven months ago to discuss “the possibility of reinstatement.” According to the findings, the investigation that led to LeRonne Armstrong’s termination was riddled with inaccuracies and should be considered “unreliable.”
The report comes at a critical moment for Oakland, which is dealing with a surge in crime and a leaderless police department. Mayor Thao recently stated that she’s ready to declare a state of emergency if the police chief’s position isn’t filled by the end of the year.
Thao may have been the one to axe Chief LeRonne Armstrong, but she says it’s the Police Commission’s fault that there hasn’t been a replacement.
”…This process has been held up by the police commission for far too long with all the shenanigans, the internal fighting,” according to Thao. She insisted her hands are tied until the commission presents her with finalists for the position.
Thao’s words drew an immediate rebuke from commissioners this month.
In a statement, the commission said Thao fired Armstrong without its input. Then, “instead of providing immediate support and resources for the Commission to do its work, the mayor removed a retired superior court judge — one of seven Regular Commissioners — and several shorthanded the already small commission of unpaid volunteers.”
Thao terminated Armstrong in February after an outside investigation alleged multiple cases of police misconduct were not met with disciplinary action. She removed former Alameda County Judge Brenda Harbin-Forte from the commission in June, heeding calls from the Coalition for Police Accountability.
The commission had said it plans to present the mayor with a set of finalists for police chief next month. The recent report, however, provides an opening for what may be the easiest option – bringing Armstrong back.