Jordan named Oakland interim police chief again

AP News
Posted: Oct 13, 2011 8:52 PM
Jordan named Oakland interim police chief again

Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan on Thursday was again named to serve as interim chief in Oakland, just days after a report said the beleaguered department is not meeting federally mandated reforms stemming from a decade-old police corruption scandal.

Jordan, a 23-year veteran on the force, was sworn in by Mayor Jean Quan to take over immediately for outgoing Chief Anthony Batts, who resigned Tuesday, citing frustration about having limited control over decision-making.

In a City hall meeting room jammed with leaders, residents and rank-and-file members of the department, Jordan said he looked forward to the challenges ahead.

"The term `interim' will not apply to my decisions," Jordan said. "This is a time for us to move forward, to look to the future."

Jordan takes over amid a rising violent crime rate; after the City Council recently tabled three crime-fighting initiatives; and a judge threatened to put the department under federal control because it has not yet met the terms of the corruption settlement in 2003.

"Howard Jordan is the best person and most prepared to become the chief of police," Quan said. "He's prepared to work forward in a way probably nobody else in the force is."

Officials said there will likely be a national search for a new chief.

Jordan previously served as interim chief after Wayne Tucker resigned in 2009 shortly before several City Council members were going to give him a vote of no confidence.

Jordan was also at the helm during the deadliest day in Oakland police history when four officers were shot and killed by a parolee after a traffic stop.

He was praised by colleagues for his leadership and for ordering an independent investigation that cited a lack of supervision and guidance that led to a deputy chief retiring and two commanders being disciplined.

Jordan publicly lobbied for the permanent job, but then-Mayor Ron Dellums lured Batts away from Long Beach. Since then, Jordan has handled much of the department's day-to-day operations.

"He's solid, he's strong, he's intelligent," Batts said about Jordan. "He's built to get the job done."

Jordan has been pivotal to the department effort to meet the reforms mandated in the "Riders" corruption scandal.

U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson recently said the city has failed to meet the terms of the settlement from a lawsuit after four rogue officers were charged with beating or framing drug suspects in 2000.

An Alameda County judge dismissed charges against two of them after two trials ended in mistrials when jurors deadlocked. A jury found a third officer not guilty. The fourth is a fugitive.

The department has complied with only 32 of the 51 reform tasks it agreed to while settling the case and could be placed under federal receivership if the remaining tasks aren't met, the judge said.

A draft report by federal monitor Robert Warshaw, a former police chief from Rochester, N.Y., also criticized the department.

"We are seriously concerned with the department's stagnation _ and now, reversal _ in achieving compliance," said the 81-page report tracking Oakland police from April to June of this year.

The monitor's report also noted that there are numerous problems, including how the department reviewed use of force incidents and how officers recounted their reasons for stopping suspects and apply "cavalier rejection" to the credibility of those who file complaints against officers.

"It is an illustration _ indeed, almost a caricature _ of the key issue seen throughout our reports and across the history of the negotiated settlement agreement: The department's difficulty in recognizing a problem, engaging in a problem-solving process, and staying focused until the problem is resolved," the report said.

Meanwhile the report praised Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana for being "committed to what needs to be done."

Jordan, without getting specific, said Thursday he has some ideas of his own.

"Change is difficult and I intend to make changes to the culture of our organization," he said. "I expect us to be in compliance fairly soon."