Oakland's new police chief officially on the job

Oakland's newest police chief is officially on the job after the city went more than a year without a permanent top cop.

Floyd Mitchell officially began as police chief on Saturday, but Monday is his first day of the regular work week.

When he was first hired, Mitchell said in a statement that his focus was to "promote safety, prevent crime and pursue justice." 

Oakland police allowed media to follow Chief Mitchell as he toured police headquarters. He gave a brief statement but did not take questions.

"I've spent the last few days attending line-ups to meet my officers," he said.

He comes to Oakland from a 30-year career in law enforcement, after most recently serving as chief in Lubbock, Texas. 

Over the weekend, Mitchell attended the graduation ceremony of the latest police academy; 12 more officers were added to the force, bringing the tally up to 716 sworn officers in Oakland. The city's budget allots for 712 officers, meaning the department is fully staffed. 

During his tour, the chief spoke to the newest class of recruit, waiting to enter police academy next month.

"35 years ago I was in your shoes," he said. "I have been in this profession probably longer than most of you have been alive."

Mayor Sheng Thao told KTVU that Mitchell's first order of business will be to reduce crime. 

Oakland Police Chief Floyd Mitchell talks to police candidates on his first real day on the job. May 13, 2024 

In an interview last week, Thao said that Mitchell has already been working with Interim Chief Darren Allison and Asst. Chief Tony Jones to really learn "the ropes of the different things we're doing here." 

"I'm going to spend the rest of this week attending different meetings to be brought up to speed on several different things going on in the Oakland Police Department and the rest of the community," Chief Mitchell said in his statement Monday morning.

Mitchell is entering his post at a time when crime and public safety have been grave concerns for the city of Oakland.

The mayor's office reports assaults, homicides and burglaries are all trending down, though robberies are still on the rise.

One restaurant owner told the story about how thieves broke into his shop twice early in the morning.

"We are all struggling here in Oakland with a decrease in foot traffic," said Nelson German, who owns alaMar Dominican Kitchen on Grand Avenue. "Public safety has been better. So I give the city a lot of props for that. They've been better at that in this area, but people need to feel safer coming. That's going to need time." 

Mitchell was Thao's final pick for chief after a yearlong search to replace LeRonne Armstrong, whom Thao fired in February 2023 after independent investigators said he didn't properly handle misconduct cases within the police department. 

Thao has also said that Armstrong's attitude during conversations about that misconduct made her less confident that he could do the job.  

Armstrong has since filed a lawsuit against the city. 

Oakland still has not announced a date to formally swear in Mitchell to his new post.