OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Oakland City Councilmember and former mayoral candidate Loren Taylor has lambasted the decision by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao to fire Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong. In a letter sent out Thursday, Taylor said that to say he was “disappointed is an understatement.”
“I truly believe that the decision to fire Chief Armstrong and the way it was made places Oakland on the wrong trajectory for public safety, police reform, government transparency, and community trust/empowerment,” wrote Taylor, who narrowly lost last year’s mayoral election to Thao.
Mayor Thao announced Armstrong’s firing in a news conference Wednesday evening, roughly a month after the chief had been placed on paid administrative leave. Thao said she had lost confidence in in Armstrong over his handling of a case involving an Oakland PD sergeant who was involved in a hit-and-run crash and later discharged his firearm in the elevator of an OPD facility.
The mayor on Wednesday announced that she decided to “separate Chief Armstrong from the city without cause.”
When Armstrong was placed on leave late last month Taylor issued a statement saying, “Placing someone on administrative leave — especially at the senior executive level — is clearly a step toward (their) possible dismissal.”
Taylor accused Thao of ushering Armstrong out the door without providing him with an opportunity to publicly defend himself.
“This decision was set in motion several weeks ago when Mayor Thao first placed him on administrative leave and issued a nationwide press release, publicly alleging his misconduct without providing him a forum to publicly respond,” Taylor said. “While Mayor Thao wanted public support for her pending decision, efforts to publicly build a case against the Chief fell short (despite confidential documents being leaked to the media).”
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Since the chief was placed on administrative leave, prominent members of the community have come forward on his behalf.
“They rallied in support of him and praised the leadership he has provided for public safety as well as increased accountability and transparency,” said Taylor. “They also asked for a fair and transparent process in reviewing this case and assessing progress made under Chief Armstrong’s leadership.”
Taylor also criticized Mayor Thao’s handling of the chief’s dismissal, saying, “the way this decision was made and announced was neither fair nor transparent,” adding that he hoped “that the unanswered questions about the credibility and quality of the outside investigation report get thoroughly evaluated as well as the circumstances by which the confidential report was leaked.”
Mayor Thao called the move to fire Chief Armstrong “not an easy decision.”