Written by The Business Journal Staff
(AP) — The troubled Oakland Police Department on Wednesday hired its first female leader, who is tasked with restoring confidence in an agency that cycled through three chiefs in as many weeks this summer after several officers were implicated in a sex scandal with an underage girl.
Anne Kirkpatrick takes over a police force that has been under federal court oversight since 2003 and without a chief for seven months. She has a track record of trying to overhaul troubled departments.
Chicago’s police chief had hired Kirkpatrick this summer to lead reforms. She previously held high-ranking law enforcement posts in Washington state, including as Spokane’s police chief for six years through 2012. The city hired her to reform a department rocked by a police brutality scandal.
She will bring that experience to an Oakland agency dogged by a scandal that ensnared two dozen officers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area accused of having sex with the teen daughter of an Oakland dispatcher.
About a dozen Oakland officers resigned, were suspended or implicated in the scandal, and seven current and former Bay Area officers faced criminal charges.
The teen has told The Associated Press and other media outlets that she worked as a 17-year-old prostitute and had sex with two dozen officers, sometimes in exchange for tips on prostitution stings and protection from arrest.
The allegations led to Oakland cycling through three police chiefs in June before the mayor announced that the city administrator would take over management of the department until a permanent chief was hired.
The police force has been under federal court supervision since the 2003 settlement of a civil rights lawsuit that accused officers of planting evidence, beating suspects and other wrongdoing.
Under former Chief Sean Whent, the city was close to shedding court oversight when the sex scandal derailed the department’s reform process in June and forced Whent to resign.
Bay Area Rapid Transit Deputy Chief Ben Fairow was appointed to replace Whent but resigned shortly afterward when news of an extramarital affair surfaced.
Oakland Deputy Chief Paul Figueroa agreed to act as interim chief but stepped down two days later for unknown reasons. Figueroa was then demoted to captain, and management of the department was turned over to the city administator.