Third Oakland police chief out in just
over a week
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[June 18, 2016]
By Curtis Skinner
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The troubled
police force in Oakland, California, saw its third police chief resign
in just over a week on Friday as investigations into sexual misconduct
and racist text messages continued to roil the department.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf told a Friday evening news conference
that acting police chief Paul Figueroa resigned his duties, a mere
two days after he was appointed to replace Ben Fairow as the
department's top cop.
"I want to assure the citizens of Oakland that we are hell-bent on
rooting out this disgusting culture," Schaaf said angrily, calling
the environment in the department "toxic" and "macho."
Schaaf has declined to provide details about the ongoing
investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against the
department, claiming that releasing information could impede the
probe and possible charges.
The local East Bay Express newspaper reported last Friday that as
many as 21 officers from the Oakland police department and other
area law enforcement agencies had sex with a teenage sex worker,
including some while she was underage.
The newspaper based its report on interviews with the woman, elected
officials, Oakland police sources as well as documents. Other media
outlets have since published similar accounts.
Schaaf did acknowledge on Friday that an unrelated investigation was
underway into the sharing of racist text messages by some black
officers. Local broadcaster NBC Bay Area reported some of the
messages contained racial slurs and images of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Schaaf said she would not appoint another acting chief and command
staff would instead report to City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.
"I feel that this is an appropriate time to place civilian oversight
over this police department," she said.
Former Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent, who had headed the
department since May 2013 and was heralded by Schaaf for recent
declines in shootings and murders, resigned last Thursday. Schaaf
declined to elaborate on the move aside from saying Whent made a
Schaaf replaced Whent with Ben Fairow, but changed course and
removed him on Wednesday, saying only that she received
"information" that made her question whether he could lead the
The news comes just days after the release of a Stanford University
study on the department, which found that African American men were
four times more likely to be searched during police traffic stops
than whites and were more likely to be handcuffed even if they were
(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Richard
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