Culture

In wake of latest scandal, judge dashes Oakland police hopes to end oversight


Oakland police Chief LeRonne Armstrong speaks as he's cheered during a rally at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Community members are protesting Armstrong being placed on administrative leave for an officer misconduct scandal. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND — The bombshell independent report last week detailing an officer’s misconduct—and subsequent cover-ups within the Oakland Police Department—has led Chief LeRonne Armstrong to be placed on leave, and it has also divided the city into two views on the issue.

One, held by Armstrong’s supporters, is the unproven claim that the chief has been railroaded by federal monitor Robert Warshaw, who is intent on continuing to be paid to oversee the OPD’s affairs.

The other, laid out by federal court Judge William Orrick at a hearing Tuesday, is that the outside report revealed “significant cultural problems” which still exist among Oakland police, two decades after the infamous Riders brutality cases first brought the department under federal oversight.

The second view appears to have won out—at least when it comes to city officials’ attempts to rid themselves of the federal monitor, with Orrick hinting the conservatorship’s planned end date of June no longer applies. The judge said during the brief hearing that he was “profoundly disappointed” by the report’s findings.

“This is the third time since I’ve been overseeing the implementation of the (settlement) that the city has seemed to come close to full compliance,” he said, “only to have a serious episode arise that exposes rot within the department.”

Armstrong’s leave was not discussed directly at the hearing, but Mayor Sheng Thao—who made the call and later clarified it was a procedural move pending further investigation, rather than a punitive measure—said those involved in the scandal will be “disciplined appropriately.”

“This particular misconduct is serious because it provides fertile ground for other misconduct to thrive,” Thao said at the hearing, noting later, “I will not tolerate toxic subcultures that try to demonize or deter officers who do the right thing.”

Oakland police Chief LeRonne Armstrong speaks as he’s cheered during a rally at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. Community members are protesting Armstrong being placed on administrative leave for an officer misconduct scandal. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Armstrong had begun 2023 with his sights set on getting out from under federal oversight by summer, but the release last week of a bombshell independent report threw his plans—and possibly his future at OPD—into a tailspin.

The report found Armstrong had hastily approved the findings of an internal affairs investigation that had been tampered with by multiple officers, allowing Sgt. Michael Chung to escape responsibility for a hit-and-run collision involving a parked vehicle.

Armstrong, the report stated, didn’t look closely enough into the incident, which was revisited only after Chung later fired his service weapon in an OPD elevator and tried to cover it up by throwing a shell casing over the Bay Bridge.

The chief on Monday declared he did nothing wrong and demanded reinstatement.

This latest in a long series of scandals involving OPD has exasperated civil rights attorneys and police critics, who point to botched internal affairs probe as proof of the department’s continuing dysfunction.

But at a rally earlier on Tuesday in …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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