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.

Returning to the list is former San Leandro Police Chief Abdul Pridgen, who left the department in September after allegations he violated department policy. 

Pridgen was also included in the commission's first lineup in December. He has declined an interview with KTVU. 

Other candidates who did make the list include former Lubbock Police Chief Floyd Mitchell, who resigned in September 2023 after dispatchers in his department were accused of not answering 911 calls. He had been with the department for four years.

Cincinnati Assistant Police Chief Lisa Davis was also put on the list. She has over 30 years of service with the department, but according to news reports, was passed over multiple times for police chief. 

The fourth candidate on the list is Louis Molina, New York City's former Commissioner of the Department of Correction and current Assistant Deputy Mayor of Public Safety. In a report from the New York Times, Molina was criticized for his "failure" to improve conditions at the city's jails.

Civil Rights attorney Jim Chanin said all the candidates seemed to have concerning issues, but Pridgen would especially be a hard sell. 

"Unless Chief Pridgen has been cleared of his charges in this case, it's going to be very difficult to see why the commission put Pridgen up there when the mayor has already rejected him." Chanin said.

He would not elaborate, but said he's surprised the commission did not select an internal candidate to be on the short list. 

The biographies on the commission's website all tout glowing resumes of each of the candidates, but news reports from around the country show each has his or her own set of troubles. 

The Times gave Molina credit for creating an alliance with the federal monitor who oversees conditions in the jails, including the notorious Rikers facility.

However, the Times also noted that 19 people died that year in city jails or immediately after being held there and Molina took steps to limit public reporting of the deaths. The department stopped alerting the media when detainees died, and the commissioner cut off a watchdog agency’s access to video from the jails, the Times reported.

Noticeably absent from the commission's latest list is former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, who was fired a year ago. 

Despite that, the police commission still put his name on the potential hiring list in December, which Mayor Thao soundly rejected.

A spokesperson for the mayor said, "Mayor Thao looks forward to receiving the list of finalists and conducting her due diligence in reviewing the candidates."

The commission is holding a community forum on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the new list of candidates.