Federal judge weighs in on OPD hiring practices as scandal, investigation continue

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A federal judge has ordered Oakland Police Department to work with their federal monitor to review and reform the department’s hiring and recruiting and early warning system for officers. 

Thursday's developments, ordered by Judge Thelton Henderson, were the latest in the sex scandal that has rocked the department and other Bay Area law enforcement agencies. 

On Wednesday, Ben Fairow -- appointed interim Oakland police chief just last week -- was relieved of his duties by the mayor, adding a new chapter to ongoing and widening sex scandal.

Mayor Libby Schaaf replaced Fairow with acting Chief Paul Figueroa, who had previously been an assistant chief with the department. 

She would not comment on why the decision to remove Fairow was made saying, "[I'm] prohibited by state law from discussing personnel matters." She added she wanted to make sure she is confident in the leadership. "We are dealing with disgusting allegations that upset me greatly," said Schaaf. 

She added that she wants an external candidate to lead the department. 

News of Fairow's departure occurred less than a week after the mayor announced the departure of Sean Whent, whom the mayor said resigned, but sources told KTVU that he was terminated from the post.

“With the abrupt resignation of Sean Whent last week, we sought to have seamless leadership of the Oakland Police Department and selected an individual who understood the dynamics in Oakland and who, based on his previous employment with OPD, could hit the ground running. However, 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," Schaaf's statement said.

>>>>>>>>For the full statement by the mayor: Click here

Fairow previously worked as deputy chief for the BART Police Department and before that, he served as a captain in the Oakland Police Department where his assignments included a stint as commander of the Internal Affairs Division.

Celeste Guap (an alias used by the woman at the center of the scandal and misconduct allegations), claims she had sex with two dozen current and former officers in five cities, according to initial newspaper reports. The reports say the woman, a Richmond resident and the daughter of an Oakland Police dispatcher, says she slept with three of the officers before she turned 18 last August.  

It was unclear if Fairow's removal as interim chief was linked to the sex scandal, but on Wednesday BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey released his own statement saying Fairow would be welcomed back to his role commanding BART's Support Services Division.

"Ben has shared information with me that, while he was married, he had a personal relationship with a consenting adult more than a decade ago, none of which precludes him from serving as a sworn law enforcement officer or as one of my Deputy Chiefs. Again - we welcome him back," Rainey's statement read. 

Rainey added that upon Fairow's hiring in to BART in 2011 that a thorough background check on him was done at that time and that he would be reestablished in full confidence and able to fulfill his role.