The city of Oakland on Friday introduced its new police chief at a time when homicides are spiking in the East Bay city.
Mayor Libby Schaaf announced the hiring of Deputy Chief LeRonne Armstrong as Oakland's new top cop. Armstrong, who has been with the Oakland Police Department for 20 years, grew up in West Oakland and went to McClymonds High School.
"He is of Oakland and for Oakland. Born + raised, tried + true, and ready to lead as we reimagine public safety and build safety + security in all neighborhoods. It is my honor to announce LeRonne Armstrong as Oakland’s Chief of Police," Schaaf said on social media.
Former police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick was fired last year after three years on the job. Armstrong is taking over for Interim Chief Susan Manheimer, whose contract expires this month.
Civil rights attorney John Burris, who has represented clients in a number of cases against OPD for alleged brutality and misconduct, says Armstrong is a very good pick for the times. Burris believes Armstrong understands the issues the department faces, especially when it comes to the negotiated settlement agreement reached in 2003 as a result of The Riders police misconduct case.
"The most important thing is we don’t have to have the learning curve," Burris said. "That is, a new chief coming on having to learn who the employees are, having to learn who he can trust and can't trust. That takes up time. So, it seems to me we have a running start here."
Homicides have spiked recently in Oakland. Last month alone the city recorded 15 homicides, the highest number for January in 20 years. There also were 64 shootings last month.
The Oakland police union blames the spike in violence on officers' inability to use cease-fire tactics during the pandemic.
While violent crime in Oakland is up this year, crime overall is down by 43%, the department says.