"It’s very important to understand the context in which we launch this search for Oakland’s permanent police chief," Schaaf said Tuesday, but she didn't address the ongoing criminal and administrative investigations into alleged OPD sexual misconduct and questions around the department's internal probe.
"We know that there is a critical national conversation happening about policing, asking critical questions about both safety and justice. ... Oakland has been at the forefront of this discussion, both in terms of the police reforms we have made in recent years as well as the community-led demands to do even more," Schaaf said.
Under Whent, Oakland was an early adopter of body cameras, and the city saw years of declining violent crime as well as police use of force and citizen complaints.
But the department has also struggled with accountability and an inability to rid its ranks of problem officers. The recent sexual-exploitation crisis notwithstanding, the department's problems imposing discipline, and the city's hit-or-miss ability to defend that discipline through arbitration, is a major reason OPD remains under federal oversight more than a decade after a lawsuit stemming from the "Riders case" exposed systemic constitutional violations by a group of officers.
"Accountability is something that all American police chiefs are going to have to be prepared to address," Schaaf said, "and enhanced citizen accountability is a trend that’s happening all over America."
Difficulties of running a chronically understaffed Police Department in a city with a relatively high rate of violent crime, a unique political landscape and federal oversight in the mix aren't detracting from likely applicants, according to city administrator Landreth.
"I have been fielding inquiries from some of the top chiefs in the country," she said at Tuesday's press conference. "I remain very, very optimistic that this remains one of the plum jobs in law enforcement in the country."
If so, it's not the only one. Oakland's going to be competing for applicants with its big sister across the bay. San Francisco is searching for its own replacement police chief following a string of scandals
and the resignation of Greg Suhr in May
The same recruiting firm, Ralph Andersen & Associates, is conducting both national searches. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the city has attracted 25 applicants, including acting Chief Toney Chaplin.
Despite San Francisco's oft-repeated distinction of having the highest-paid police chief in the country, compensation for the two top-cop positions is comparable if you include benefits.
In 2015, former SFPD Chief Greg Suhr took home $308,901 in regular pay and $410,938 in total pay and benefits, according to public employee salary data from Transparent California. In 2015, former OPD Chief Whent took home $235,798 in regular pay -- more than $70,000 less than Suhr. But with almost $60,000 in "other pay" and $122,998 in benefits, Whent's total pay and benefits topped Suhr's by nearly $7,000.
"The fact that San Francisco is recruiting at the same time could be a challenge and it could be a bonus," Schaaf said. "Certainly, a lot of people are paying attention to the Bay Area right now, as a great place to live, and a place that is rife for opportunity for a reform-minded leader to really make their mark."
Oakland is hosting 10 community meetings through September to gather public input on who its next police chief should be. The city's "Police Chief Recruitment" website lists the dates and links to an online survey in four languages. Landreth said the job should post in the next 10 days and the city will accept applications for a month and a half. She said the city aims "to have a permanent chief in place at the beginning of the year."