Oakland police chief believes reforms are needed

Bay Area

OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Oakland’s top cop says he is on a mission to push forward reforms within the department.

During a Facebook Live Wednesday night, Chief LeRonne Armstrong discussed some of the steps he’s implementing in the department to make it happen sooner rather than later.

Chief Armstrong has been a strong supporter of reforms in law enforcement. He’s been on several national shows talking about the need for law enforcement to listen to the community on what they best need.

In the nearly 30-minute sit-down, the chief mentioned that de-escalation along with those reforms could go a long way in helping in many cases of police interactions.

Chief LeRonne Armstrong says reform is needed in police agencies nationwide and within his own agency.

“Law enforcement has been such an insulate institution for so long that I think it’s time to let the community in the room,” Chief Armstrong said. 

Armstrong says many cases of people killed at the police that have grabbed headlines nationwide is troubling for him.

In recent weeks, Armstrong has hit the national news circuit championing the calls for de-escalation among police officers, something he says he’s trying to make second nature within OPD.

“And some of the responsibility is law enforcement. How do we better train our officers to manage these situations? how do we recognize that a gun and badge may not be the best response to everything,” Chief Armstrong said. 

Armstrong says he’s looking forward to the upcoming MACRO Team in Oakland.

The team, recently approved by the Oakland City Council, sends civilians and medical and mental health professionals to respond to non-violent emergency calls in, instead of officers.

“For so many years when law enforcement was handling critical incidents, we weren’t very open to the community saying, can I help you with that, or calling a mom to come to a scene to see if she can get her son to safely surrender,” Chief Armstrong said. 

The 20-year Oakland native says much has changed since joining the force, but he says at the heart of every interaction between the public and police is respect — Something that he says isn’t always there.

“People oftentimes talk about the treatment they had for law enforcement more than they talk about the outcome, whether they got a ticket or went to jail, that doesn’t matter as much as if the officer was unprofessional or disrespectful,” Chief Armstrong said. 

In addition to the MACRO Team that will help, Chief Armstrong says he’s invested in technology, including a simulator that will allow officers to train for certain situations that they could come across in the field.

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