Bay Area/ Oakland/ Politics & Govt
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Published on February 28, 2024
Oakland's Police Chief Search Stirs Controversy with Outside Candidates Amid Political StrifeSource: Google Street View

Oakland's search for a new head of police has entered a controversial new chapter as the city's Police Commission unveiled a slate of four candidates – all from outside the department – to take the reins amid a landscape of political discord and lingering frustration.

The list, which includes a previously rejected candidate and others with checkered pasts, signals a perplexing game of tug-of-war between the Commission and Mayor Sheng Thao, according to SFist. Among the contenders is Abdul Pridgen, the embattled former San Leandro chief, whose tenure ended with allegations of policy violations and whose name had been cast aside by Mayor Thao in a previous round of considerations.

Other figures in the mix include Floyd Mitchell, the ex-chief from Lubbock, Texas who finds himself unmoored from his post following uproar over ignored emergency calls – and marching into Oakland's stormy police political landscape with eyebrows raised. Lisa Davis from Cincinnati and Louis Molina from New York bring their own mix of experiences, and questions about their fit for addressing Oakland's high-stakes policing puzzle.

Despite the array of qualms surrounding the candidates, a public forum is on the agenda, slated for Thursday evening at Oakland City Hall where community members will have the opportunity to make their voices heard, parse through the prospects, and submit their questions for the potential chiefs while Mayor Thao conducts her "due diligence," as reported by NBC Bay Area.

"The challenge is going to be handling the politics of that city, which are very difficult," Anne Kirkpatrick, a former Oakland police chief, told NBC Bay Area. Councilmember Noel Gallo, meanwhile, emphasizes the need for a chief who can foster a safe, business-friendly environment, stating, "How do we maintain and grow our businesses faster? And secondly, how do we create a setting where grandma and grandpa can walk freely in the afternoon or in the evening here on our business corridors?"