Oakland’s last chance – San Jose Mercury News

Posted: February 19, 2012 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

By Matthew Artz

OAKLAND — Time is not on the side of Oakland’s new police chief.

If it were up to most city leaders, Howard Jordan, a 46-year-old former Navy man and Oakland police lifer, would get years to leave his stamp on a department that is fighting an upswing in crime with far fewer officers than just two years ago.

However, it’s not. It’s up to federal Judge Thelton Henderson, who last month wrote that he was in “disbelief” at the department’s lack of progress in implementing 51 reform measures it agreed to nine years ago when Oakland settled the Riders police misconduct lawsuit.

Jordan is new to the job, but he heads a department that is late in the game when it comes to meeting the terms of its settlement agreement. The reforms were to have been implemented four years ago.

Last month, Henderson stripped Jordan of autonomy on several fronts, requiring him to consult with a court-appointed monitor on tactical initiatives, personnel decisions, and policy changes. He also gave Oakland mere months to show that it was progressing on the reforms or risk becoming the nation’s first city to lose control of its police department.

“This year is going to be critical,” said Sgt. Bob Crawford, the department’s longest-serving officer.

For many officers, the specter of a federal takeover doesn’t loom large. Their duties won’t change whether their chief answers to the city administrator or a federal judge.

But for Oakland officials and community leaders, losing control would be devastating and potentially expensive. And Jordan, taking over at such a critical juncture, is predestined to be a noteworthy chief — leading the department either to its renewal or disgrace.

via Oakland’s last chance – San Jose Mercury News.

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