Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong keeps officers to ‘higher standard’ as federal oversight of department enters final stage

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — After nearly 20 years, the Oakland Police Department entered the final stage on Wednesday to end its federal oversight.

Since 2003, the department has been required to enact dozens of reform measures under the direction of a federal judge and outside observers.

At the time, the OPD was under intense scrutiny after four officers known as “the Horsemen” were charged with brutalizing people on the streets of certain Oakland neighborhoods.

In an interview with ABC7 News on Wednesday, Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong called the day monumental not just for the department, but for the city as a whole.

RELATED: Oakland Police Department nears end of federal oversight after nearly 20 years

Armstrong said the department today is radically different from decades past.

“We’re not going to allow people to work for this department that violates the public trust, that violates our policies, that we’re going to hold our officers to higher standards,” Armstrong said.

Recently, a federal judge determined that the OPD had completed all of the reforms planned nearly two decades ago.

This last step is a probationary period of one year… after which, if successful, the department will be returned to local control.

But not everyone is convinced.

VIDEO: Several Oakland police officers face disciplinary action over Instagram scandal

“We can look back to the last year when they were mired in a racist and sexist text messaging scandal. We can look back to the year before during the George Floyd uprising,” said James Burch, of the Anti Police- Terror Project.

Burch believes that despite years of monitoring, OPD has not fundamentally changed.

He says, instead, that he wants to see the city divert money from the department’s budget.

“We are going through a housing crisis in the city of Oakland right now. There are thousands of people on our streets who need critical support. So, quite frankly, in terms of enforcing the law, we think our money is better spent elsewhere,” Burch said.

RELATED: OPD Launches Investigation into Alleged ‘Offensive’ Employee Social Media Posts

Armstrong says he knows building trust within the community can take time.

But, he says, he remains committed to doing so and encourages the Oaklanders to participate in the process.

“True transparency is not just about posting videos. It’s about changing policies that are going to impact communities, does the community have a say?”

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

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