Protest over Alameda County deputy psych exams comes to sheriff's door

Twelve of 47 Alameda County sheriff's deputies who had their peace-officer powers removed over poor psychological entrance examinations are now back on the job, sheriff's officials said Wednesday as protesters came to their headquarters in Oakland.

"Sheriff Ahern! No rehire! No retest!" they chanted outside the sheriff's office at 14th and Lakeside in downtown Oakland.

"Ahern has been in office for 15 years, so who knows how many other unsuitable candidates he's snuck into the sheriff's office," said Cynthia Nunes of the Urban Peace Movement.

Ahern was out of town Wednesday, but he told KTVU this week that a state agency had indicated he could hire deputies who got a "D" grade or were deemed poorly suited on psych exams. The agency in question, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, has disputed this. Ahern said his office had a "margin of discretion" and "checks and balances."

Among the protesters was Barbara Doss, the mother of Dujuan Armstrong, who died after being restrained by deputies at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. 

"It hurts me like it was yesterday," Doss said. "Help me ask these people for help to hold these people accountable, every last one of them officers."

Cat Brooks of the Anti Police-Terror Project was among speakers who sounded a warning about Sheriff-Elect Yesenia Sanchez, who has said the 47 deputies are owed an apology for the situation.

"Some of you thought that was going to mean change," Brooks said. "What she has demonstrated is that she is committed to the status quo, and the status quo is human rights abuses."

The group then entered the lobby of the building that houses the sheriff's office in Oakland and demanded to see Ahern and Sanchez.

"The people are coming for who? Yesenia Sanchez," they chanted after similar shouts related to Ahern.

Assistant Sheriff Casey Nice came down to meet briefly with the protesters and was handed what was called a "people's subpoena" with a list of demands.

Sanchez told KTVU the hiring process is flawed and that she will work on restoring the trust of both deputies and the community.

"Something that i actually platformed on as being a priority is to actually take a look, a deep dive at into our hiring practices to make sure that they're fair and that we're following the regulations," Sanchez said.