Four candidates for Oakland police chief vacancy address public at forum

The Oakland Police Commission held a community forum Thursday night, to introduce the public to four police chief candidates topping their list. 

Over the past year, the commission and Mayor Sheng Thao have been in a battle to fill the position after Mayor Thao fired the previous police chief, LeRonne Armstrong

Thao announced ahead of time she would not be attending the forum. 

The four candidates appeared virtually and about 30 people came in-person to the Oakland police candidate forum at Oakland City Hall. More people watched live online.

"We're offering you change agents. Look at their qualifications and how they will change Oakland," said Marsha Peterson, the chair of the Oakland Police Commission and ad-hoc committee.

Peterson asked the candidates to present plans for their first 100 days, if they were to become Oakland's police chief.

Louis Molina, assistant deputy mayor in New York City, said he'd begin with community meetings, a review of department policies, budget, and staffing.

"I am an evidence-based thinker," Molina said, adding that he would also bring a unique breadth of experience.

"I've worked with policing, I've worked with the AG office, and I've worked in corrections," Molina said.

Lisa Davis, assistant chief of the Cincinnati Police Department, said she's a collaborator and would begin with a listening tour, talking with community leaders and police sergeants who she says play a critical public role.

"The way we treat people matters and that's how accountability shows," Davis said.

Davis says she would use precision policing data to focus on high crime locations and also reach out to at-risk youth.

"You can be pro-police and be about police reform. Those aren't mutually exclusive," Davis said.

Former San Leandro Chief Abdul Pridgen, a previous candidate who'd been rejected by Mayor Thao before, said he'd prioritize the budget, police staffing and community engagement.

"In my experience, the way you change culture and behavior is accountability," Mitchell said. "I believe it starts from the top down, and I ask people to hold me accountable for what I do."


Oakland Police Commission unveils new list of police chief candidates

The Oakland Police Commission unveiled a new slate of candidates for the city's next police chief on Tuesday after Mayor Sheng Thao rejected the commission's initial picks.

Floyd Mitchell, former Lubbock police chief, said he would meet with the community and the police rank and file.

"I think it's vitally important to get feedback from the officers that have boots on the ground, and determine from them where we excel and where we can do better," Mitchell said

After the meeting, many community members said they were glad the commission held the forum, so the public could hear directly from candidates.

"The forum is great. I think you should always have a forum when you are going to select someone like a chief of police," said Merlin Edwards, a board member with the Oakland NAACP.

"I wanted to see who would be over our city," said Selika Thomas, an Oakland resident running for City Council, "We have a lot of crime out here, and we need someone to help prevent it."

"Certainly, I saw tonight that out of the four, it was clear who my top choice would be out of the top four," said Oakland City Council Member Noel Gallo, who did not disclose which candidate he liked best.

The ad-hoc committee went into closed session around 9 p.m. to vote on their favorite candidates. They expect to present their list to Mayor Thao on Friday morning.

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Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU. Email Jana at or call her at 510-326-5529. Or follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU.