After Oakland lost three police chiefs in just eight days amid a string of bombshell accusations involving racist text messages and prostitution, city officials have decided the department can operate without any chief at all.
State officials initially balked at Mayor Libby Schaaf’s proposal to have police commanders report directly to the city administrator, claiming such a plan would be illegal — but opposition has since been dropped.
Chief Sean Whent suddenly resigned June 9 after investigators revealed several officers had sex with a teenage prostitute, in some cases when she was underage. The mayor then appointed Bay Area Rapid Transit Assistant Police Chief Ben Fairow as a temporary replacement, but fired him last Wednesday after learning unspecified information that led her to lose confidence in his ability to lead the beleaguered department. And then finally, Schaaf apponted Paul Figueroa as an acting chief. She said he stepped down on Friday but claims his decision was not connected to any of the scandals.
She revealed officials were investigating racist text messages she said were “wholly inappropriate and not acceptable from anyone who wears the badge of the Oakland Police Department.”
The mayor denounced the department’s “toxic, macho culture” and vowed to root out “the bad apples.” She added, “As the mayor of Oakland, I’m here to run a police department, not a frat house.”
At least 14 officers are mired in the sex scandal, and Schaaf said the number of officers involved with the racist texts is smaller. Still, she cautioned the investigation was ongoing. One of the officers under investigation in the text scandal has been placed on leave, she said. Some of the officers being investigated were “engaging in hate speech,” and others were “tolerating it” by receiving offensive messages and not reporting them, Schaaf said.
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