Mayor ‘Loses Confidence' in Oakland Police Interim Chief Ben Fairow, Removes Him Immediately

Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa will now step in to lead the police department.

Five days after he was tapped for the position, Ben Fairow, Oakland police's new interim chief, has been removed from his position effective immediately, Mayor Libby Schaaf said.

Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa will now step in to lead the police department.

"The information I received raised concerns for me whether he can effectively lead this department at this particular moment in time and during critical transition," Schaaf said of Fairow.

Schaaf would not elaborate on why, other than to say that "state law prohibits me from further elaborating on the specific factors that led to this decision."

She added that she "just received information that has caused me to lose confidence in Ben Fairow’s ability to lead the Oakland Police Department at this particular moment in time. OPD staff, members of our community and city leadership deserve to have complete trust and confidence in our chief, especially during this critical transition."

Figueroa was at a planned meeting at Castlemont High School on Wednesday night.

"We're just focused on just getting the operations in the department stabilized," he said.

The shakeup comes less than a week after Schaaf announced Sean Whent would no longer be the city's top cop.

Though Schaaf said Whent left, suddenly and without notice, for "personal reasons," he did so amidst a growing sex scandal. At the center of it is 18-year-old Celeste Guap, a prostitute who said she has had sex with as many as 28 police officers stretching across several counties and agencies, sometimes when she was a minor, sometimes for money and sometimes in exchange for information that would keep her from being arrested.

Schaaf at a news conference did not give any indication Fairow is tied to the sex scandal. The mayor did say she needs to send a strong message and so does the chief she chooses.

"That the culture of this department does not tolerate unethical behavior, sexual misconduct or lying," Schaaf said.

Fairow previously was at the heart of a lawsuit filed in 2014 by the widow of a Bay Area Rapid Transit sergeant killed while doing a search in Dublin. The suit alleged BART's police department under Chief Kenton Rainey and Deputy Chief Fairow has a practice of denying the use of trained SWAT officers for potentially high-risk building and probation searches.

Following Wednesday's announcement Fairow was removed from the Oakland Police Department, Rainey released the following statement welcoming the deputy chief back:

"The BART Police Department welcomes back Deputy Chief Ben Fairow to his role commanding the Support Services Division.

We are confident in Deputy Chief Fairow’s ability to fulfill his important role, and we are confident in our due diligence in hiring Ben Fairow in 2011. We did a thorough background check on Ben at that time.

Ben has shared information with me that, while he was married, he had a personal relationship with a consenting adult more than a decade ago, none of which precludes him from serving as a sworn law enforcement officer or as one of my Deputy Chiefs.

Again - we welcome him back."

Fairow is the sixth person to be Oakland police chief since 2011.

Prior to Fairow holding the position for less than a week, Whent served three years as Oakland's police chief.

Anthony Toribio held the interim title for a short time before Whent was named chief. Toribio had replaced Howard Jordan, who cited an undisclosed medical condition for leaving his post.

Jordan's 19-month tenure was marked by a rise in crime and a department undergoing federal oversight.

In 2011, Anthony Batts announced his resignation as chief, saying there was too much bureaucracy and a lack of resources to fight crime.

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