Sean Whent was sworn in today as Oakland’s third police chief this week, following the surprise announcements that the city’s former chief was stepping down earlier this week and that an interim chief was leaving after just two days in the position. The appointment of Whent, a 17-year veteran of the department who most recently served as deputy chief, comes after former Chief Howard Jordan on Wednesday announced he was ending his tenure as the city’s top cop and taking steps toward medical retirement.
Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio took over the helm but made a personal decision to leave today after two days in the position, according to city officials. A statement from city officials released today said Toribio “fully supports the new leadership” and will continue to work for the department. After Whent’s appointment as acting head cop, he tapped Paul Figueroa as acting assistant chief along with three others to serve as acting deputy chiefs of other bureaus. Mayor Jean Quan said under Whent, the city will start implementing portions of a report received Thursday from a group of police experts headed by William Bratton, former police chief in New York City, Los Angeles and Boston.
The so-called Bratton Group report criticized Oakland police for a number of shortcomings, including a lack of information sharing and lack of ability to counter the city’s growing robbery and burglary problems. The report recommended that the city implement a more district-based structure to allow officers to better address serious crimes. Whent said in a statement, “Although my appointment is interim, I pledge to own the role and assignment as if it were not.” City officials will continue their nationwide search for a new police chief that launched after Jordan announced his departure Wednesday.
Jordan had been appointed chief by Quan on Feb. 1, 2012. He had previously served as interim chief since October 2011 after former police Chief Anthony Batts abruptly resigned. A report released last week by newly appointed compliance director Thomas Frazier criticized the department’s command structure. City officials said Jordan’s retirement is not connected to the report, but rather unspecified medical issues.
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