Fmr. Oakland police chief Armstrong responds to mayor's rejection of candidates list

The search for a new Oakland police chief continues after Mayor Sheng Thao rejected all candidates on a list presented by the city's Police Commission.   

A statement provided by Thao's office Wednesday confirmed that the mayor requested a new list from the Police Commission, which has the responsibility of presenting at least three candidates for the chief position to the mayor for her consideration.   

"Mayor Thao thanks the Oakland Police Commission for their continued service and looks forward to working with the commissioners to select the best possible candidate for Oakland," the statement reads, in part.     

Oakland has been without a permanent chief since Thao fired former chief LeRonne Armstrong earlier this year following an outside investigation into police misconduct in the department and what Thao said were statements by Armstrong that minimized the seriousness of its findings.   

In October, the Oakland Police Commission's staff search committee said Armstrong was among seven people compiled for their list of top candidates, though the mayor's office and Police Commission on Wednesday did not publicly release the list of candidates considered by Thao.   

Armstrong responded on Wednesday to the mayor's decision to disregard the commission's recommendations.   

"It is unfair that I am unable to continue to serve and protect the people of Oakland," he said. "As a native of Oakland, nothing gave me greater pleasure and pride than to work in my community and fight to improve it."   


Oakland police chief finalists revealed; mayor Sheng Thao rejects all 3

Oakland's mayor on Wednesday sent back the names of the three police chief candidates submitted to her office after the city has been without a top law enforcement official for nearly a year.

"We respect the Mayor's decision to ask for a new list of candidates," said Police Commission President Marsha Peterson in an email Wednesday. "The Oakland Police Commission will continue to perform our duty under the City Charter to review candidates and provide recommendations to the Mayor. The commission will work collaboratively and diligently with the Mayor to find exceptional candidates for Oakland."   

Armstrong was fired by Thao in February after a 30-day suspension, which followed an outside investigation into alleged police misconduct in the department.   

At the time, Thao said she fired the Oakland native after only two years on the job because she lost confidence in him when he made statements that she maintained minimized the seriousness of the investigation's findings.   

The investigation into the department focused primarily on two separate alleged infractions by the same police sergeant -- a hit-and-run vehicle collision and the accidental firing of a gun in the freight elevator of police headquarters -- and a subsequent investigation by the department's internal affairs division.   

In September, Armstrong said a 55-page report from the hearing officer in his case appealing Thao's decision affirms that he never should have been disciplined, he never violated department policy and the claim that he lacked credibility during the investigation is unfounded.   

Armstrong's predecessor, Anne Kirkpatrick, was fired by the Oakland police commission and then-Mayor Libby Schaaf in 2020 after almost three years on the job.   

She subsequently won a federal whistleblower lawsuit in which she alleged her firing was in retaliation for reporting several instances of police commissioner misconduct, including alleged attempts to use their offices for personal gain, seeking special treatment from the police department and inappropriately meddling in the department's operations, among other things.   

The city eventually agreed to settle the case for $1.5 million.   

Kirkpatrick was hired to lead the New Orleans Police Department in October.