East Bay News

Oakland Police Chief Jordan on medical leave, stepping down

Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Departing Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan spoke exclusively to ABC7 News about his decision to leave the department. Oaklands new police chief outlines his vision

On a ride along with ABC7 News last week, Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan expressed his frustrations. And now he's no longer in charge of the Oakland Police Department.

Jordan has been Oakland's top cop since last February. Because of the city's crime rate and fractured politics, the word "embattled" has often preceded his title. On Wednesday he took a sudden leave and said he would seek a medical retirement.

Jordan spoke exclusively with ABC7 News on Wednesday to explain the unexpected announcement. He told us he was not forced out and that he does not have any regrets, adding that it was absolutely an emotional, difficult day.

"I was never forced out, I actually had been talking to my physician for quite some time now, and based on his recommendation I decided to make that decision today," Jordan said. "In the long run, you know, after 25 years of service I have to think about what's good for me and my family. And my goal is to control my own destiny and at this point the only way for me to do that is to resign or seek medical retirement so I can live longer."

Jordan went on to tell us he is completely onboard for the reforms that have been suggested by Bill Bratton and others.

We asked him if he thought the criticism of his leadership and department was justified, to which he answered no, that it's very difficult to lead the Oakland Police Department and to be an Oakland police officer.

This decision is reverberating throughout Oakland city government. Officials and the new acting Chief of Police Anthony Toribio spoke to the media late Wednesday afternoon.

At the news conference Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana expressed their shock and disappointment over Jordan's announcement to retire, and tried to put to rest rumors of the chief being pushed out by the federal overseer.

Chief Jordan gave his last interview to media on May 1. During an exclusive ride along with ABC7 News we discussed his time with the department, including the controversial period of October 2011 where, as interim police chief, he watched Occupy tents take over Frank Ogawa Plaza and then later came under fire for the use of force by his officers and other agencies against Occupy protesters when the decision was made to remove them from the plaza.

In a candid and revealing discussion about department staffing shortages and city budget woes, Jordan made it clear he had no desire to quit the job he's held for more than two decades.

"Obviously the chief was aware of his own personal set of factors and made a decision in his best interest at the time that he thought was appropriate," Santana said. "We respect that, we receive that, and we are prepared to move forward."

Santana wanted to put to rest rumors that Jordan had been pushed out. She also cited HIPAA concerns. She said the chief is still an active member of the department; he's simply working on his retirement.

Anthony Toribio is now in the top position. He is a 23-year veteran of the Oakland Police Department and stressed that the community policing plans and same values of collaboration will move forward.

Jordan issued a letter to his employees on the OPD website Wednesday, saying his decision is effective immediately.

It reads, "This morning I advised City Administrator Deanna Santana that, effective immediately, I am on medical leave and taking steps toward medical retirement. This decision has been difficult, but necessary. Through my 24 years of wearing an OPD badge and uniform, I have emulated the Department's core values: Honesty, Respect, and Integrity -- values I observed in the men and women who worked with me and for me. I know that the members and civilian staff of the Department will carry on these values to generations to come. It has been an honor to serve the City of Oakland."

(Copyright ©2014 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.)

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OPD, crime, murder, howard jordan, east bay news
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