A look back at the Oakland Police Department scandals and revolving door of chiefs

The firing of Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong highlights the turmoil and revolving door in leadership that has plagued the department for decades.

The troubled history dates back to a scandal that launched federal oversight more than 20 years ago. That monitoring continues today.

KTVU found there have been 10 people leading the department in 10 years. No one has held the job for more than three years since 2009.

But the difficulties began long before that. Here is a timeline of some of the incidents that have caused instability in the department:

  • 2000: Four officers known as "The Riders" were accused of racial profiling, beating people, framing them and planting drugs.
  • 2003: Oakland Police Department begins federal oversight as part of the city’s more than $10 million settlement agreement in the Riders civil lawsuit. Criminal cases involving the accused officers ended in mistrials.
  • 2013: The beginning of the revolving door of chiefs: Chief Howard Jordan abruptly resigned for a unknown medical reason. Chief Anthony Toribio served just two days. Then, Chief Sean Whent took over for several years.
  • 2016: Chief Sean Whent was forced to resign following several officer misconduct scandals including a sex abuse scandal involving officers and the teenage daughter of a police dispatcher.
  • 2016: Chief Ben Fairow took over for Chief Sean Whent. Five days later, Chief Paul Figueroa was put into the position. He was replaced days after by city administrator Sabrina Landreth.
  • 2017: Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was named the first female chief.
  • 2018: Five officers shot and killed Joshua Pawlik, an armed homeless man. That incident called into question Chief Anne Kirkpatrick’s leadership, use-of-force policies and reforms.
  • 2019: Federal monitor issues report that accused the department of backsliding and falling out of compliance.
  • 2020: Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was fired following an Oakland Police Commission vote. She later sued and won. Darren Allison became acting chief.
  • 2021: LeRonne Armstrong is appointed police chief by Mayor Libby Schaaf and took over for interim chief Susan Manheimer.
  • 2021: Nine officers were disciplined for their part in an offensive Instagram account involving sexist and racist posts.
  • 2023: Newly-elected Mayor Sheng Thao places Chief LeRonne Armstrong on administrative leave and later fires him.

For now, Darren Allison has once again been named acting chief.  

Brooks Jarosz is an investigative reporter for KTVU. Email him at  brooks.jarosz@fox.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter @BrooksKTVU