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These Are the 4 Oakland Police Chief Candidates Mayor Sheng Thao Will Consider for the Job

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Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao announces the firing of Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong during a press conference at City Hall in Oakland, on Feb. 15, 2023. The Oakland Police Commission will present Thao a list of finalists for the position of police chief on Friday. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

Updated, 1:30 p.m. Thursday

Oakland residents will have a chance to weigh in this week on the four candidates bidding to be the city’s next police chief, ahead of the mayor considering the pool of finalists.

Thursday’s public forum will be at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. Candidates will attend virtually.

The four finalists, selected by the Oakland Police Commission are: Lisa Davis, assistant police chief in Cincinnati; Floyd Mitchell, a former police chief in Lubbock, Texas; Louis Molina, a former Las Vegas police chief and currently assistant deputy mayor for public safety in New York City; and Abdul Pridgen, the former police chief in San Leandro who resigned last week following allegations that he violated department policies.

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Live questions will not be taken at the forum, according to the city’s website, but residents can submit questions for the candidates ahead of time at the city’s website no later than 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Following Thursday’s forum, residents can share feedback on an online survey.

The city has not had a permanent head of police since last February, when Mayor Sheng Thao fired former Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong. That was after allegations that the department had failed to properly investigate misconduct charges against a sergeant who was accused of a hit-and-run in 2021 and of discharging a firearm in an elevator in the OPD building in 2022.

As of 1 p.m. on Wednesday, the mayor had not yet received the official list of final candidates, even though the Commission has publicly shared the names.

“Mayor Thao looks forward to receiving the list of finalists and conducting her due diligence in reviewing the candidates,” Francis Zamora, the mayor’s chief of communications, said in an email.

Thao can decide on the next police chief after the Police Commission sends its candidates list on March 1.

The mayor will not be at Thursday’s public forum, however, and expressed concern about the event in a letter sent to the Commission on Tuesday.

“I am fully invested in finding exceptional candidates for Oakland. However, a public forum does not help recruit the best candidates,” Thao wrote. “A forum identifying candidates places those individuals at unnecessary risk with their current employers. It may also force Oakland to enter into a premature bidding war with an individual’s current employer if they feel strongly about retaining them.”

In December, the mayor rejected three names the Police Commission recommended for the position. That previous list also included Armstrong, the former chief, who took the job in 2021.

Armstrong, meanwhile, sued the city earlier this month for wrongful termination. In his lawsuit, the former police chief is now seeking an unspecified amount for damages and to be reinstated.

The lawsuit follows a report in September 2023, where retired California Judge Maria R. Rivera praised Armstrong’s work and suggested the mayor should reconsider his termination.

John Burris, a longtime Oakland civil rights attorney, said he was looking for the candidate who had the most relevant experience and a proven track record of effectively running a major police department.

“My criteria is for the mayor to really look at someone to make sure they have had experience that closely aligns with the kinds of issues that will come up in Oakland,” civil rights attorney John Burris told KQED. “We don’t want to have a long learning curve for a new chief.”


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