OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — LeRonne Armstrong released a lengthy statement on Friday, asserting he was wrongfully terminated as Oakland police chief.
Mayor Sheng Thao fired Armstrong on Wednesday “without cause” because he allegedly failed to discipline officers who committed misconduct. Thao said she lost confidence in Armstrong’s ability to reform the Oakland Police Department after he downplayed the seriousness of an investigation by a Federal Monitor.
On Thursday, Thao told KRON4 that she will not reverse her decision. She’s focused on moving forward, finding a new police chief, and lifting the OPD out from under federal oversight through reforms, the mayor said.
Armstrong wrote the following statement to KRON4 on Friday:
“I was wrongly terminated for standing up for the City of Oakland. As the Police Chief, I did my job, and I did it well. I committed no misconduct, I followed all relevant policies and procedures, and I delivered on my promise to implement reforms to bring the City to the goal line of ending federal oversight,” Armstrong wrote.
“But my termination was never really about the facts of my performance or my ability to lead effectively. My termination was about Federal Monitor Robert Warshaw, and the Mayor’s failure to fight for the Oakland community. Mr. Warshaw’s history and incentives are crystal clear. It is the elephant in the room. He is supposed to be neutral, but he is not. It’s in the best interest of his pocketbook to conclude that every error at the Police Department is a scandal that reaches all the way to the top of the organization, and to write sensational reports about it — all at Oakland taxpayers’ expense. His conclusions need to be taken with a very big grain of salt, and scrutinized to be sure that they are backed by evidence and that they make sense,” Armstrong wrote.
“When I pointed that out – the Mayor fired me. I have read news reports describing the Mayor’s decision to fire me as ‘bold.’ The reality is the complete opposite. She did the easy thing. She accepted the Monitor’s conclusions at face value without weighing the evidence and without asking the hard questions that needed to be asked about the holes in those reports. And she put the City on a path to accepting invalid criticism that could justify more oversight, more checks paid to Robert Warshaw, and instability in a critical public safety role during a time of real public safety problems in Oakland,” Armstrong wrote.
“In the process, the Mayor shut out critical input from other key stakeholders like the Police Commission, which has rightly commented that there are serious questions about the “credibility and quality” of the Monitor’s reports. Worse, she ignored the Oakland community. The Mayor promised to bring the community together, listen to their voices, and earn their trust. But as soon as I was placed on leave, the community spoke – loudly – that I had earned their trust and I should be the Chief to finish what I started in implementing critical public safety reforms. I continue to be humbled and grateful for that community support, which unfortunately fell on deaf ears at the Mayor’s office,” Armstrong wrote.
“Oakland needs leadership willing to stand up for its citizens and willing to push back on efforts by outsiders to unfairly criticize the progress the City has made. It was a privilege to serve this community for over twenty years, and I regret that my opportunity to take the Police Department across the finish line was wrongly denied me. Oakland deserves better,” Armstrong wrote.