Timeline pushed back in Oakland top cop search

The Oakland Police Commission was to have sent the names of four finalists for police chief to Mayor Libby Schaaf on Friday. But instead, the search process has been pushed back several months.

That means interim top cop Susan Manheimer, a veteran of the San Francisco and San Mateo police departments, will continue to lead the Oakland force until Dec. 8.

"They've received over two dozen applications. They've whittled it down to about a dozen," said Rashidah Grinage of the Coalition for Police Accountability.

Grinage said there's no evidence the commission is unhappy with the candidates so far.

"It seems like they are satisfied with the quality of the applicants, so what I'm thinking is they need the additional time to do the vetting," Grinage said.

At a virtual meeting Thursday night, commission chair Regina Jackson said the panel has more work to do to find a "reform-minded leader."

"We have cut down the universe of candidates to a smaller group and are working on identifying due diligence, background checks," Jackson said.

The 12 will eventually be winnowed down to four. Mayor Libby Schaaf is to select the chief from that final quartet.

There were about 30 candidates for the chief's job back in 2016. The job description this time around has a long list of requirements, like tackling violent crime, eliminating racial profiling and promoting deescalation.

"They're difficult, but this is a difficult job. I mean, I think that's the one thing that everyone's that held it can agree on," said civil rights attorney Jim Chanin, who helped reach a settlement with the city of Oakland over alleged police misconduct in 2000. The court-mandated reform effort is still ongoing.

According to the commission, some of the 24 candidates in the current search have asked that their names not be revealed, so any short list will be kept secret from the public.

"We at this time do not anticipate a community engagement process," Jackson said.

The candidates include outsiders and Oakland police veterans.

Two internal candidates for chief include Deputy Chief LeRonne Armstrong and interim Deputy Chief Drennon Lindsey -  who happens to be Armstrong's wife.

The next chief will be the sixth person to run the department during Schaaf's tenure.