There are four finalists for the job of Oakland police chief and they were interviewed in a virtual forum Thursday, Nov. 5 by several members of the Police Commission and Mayor Libby Schaaf. You can view the interviews here and read a little about the candidates below.

YouTube video

Here’s the roster of police chief candidates:

Leronne Armstrong is currently deputy chief at OPD. He grew up in Oakland and his ties to the city’s Black community are viewed by many as a strong qualification for the job. Armstrong joined OPD as a patrol officer in 1999, a tumultuous time for the department. The Riders scandal (involving a squad of cops that planted drugs, lied, and beat suspects) upended the department in 2000 and led to a court settlement in 2003 requiring reforms at OPD. Armstrong’s career has run parallel to the reform effort, and he has been involved in OPD’s work to reduce racial profiling.

Jason Lando has been with the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania police for 21 years and is currently the commander of its Narcotics and Vice Unit. He helped Pittsburgh implement procedural justice, de-escalation, and implicit bias trainings for over 1,000 officers and is a proponent of intelligence-led policing, a school of thought that runs somewhat counter to the older “broken windows” strategy. Lando also recently applied to be chief of the Waco, Texas and Milwaukee, Wisconsin police departments.

Drennon Lindsey joined OPD in 1998 after working three years as a middle school teacher in Oakland. Born in Richmond, she also has strong ties to Oakland’s Black community and other communities here. Lindsey has supervised patrol officers, including as the commander of OPD’s West Oakland field operations, and has worked in OPD’s robbery, felony assault, homicide, and major crimes sections. She has been involved in an internal study examining racial disparities in OPD’s disciplinary practices and is currently working with Merritt College’s Administration of Justice Program to recruit local residents to work at OPD.

Abdul Pridgen is chief of the Seaside Police Department in Monterey County where he has gained a reputation as a reformer interested in increasing transparency and trust with the public. After serving in the Navy he joined the Fort Worth, Texas police where he eventually became assistant chief. He was demoted in 2017 after being accused of leaking body camera video which showed a white police officer mistreating a Black woman who called to report an assault on her son. He also created the Institute for Transparent and Accountable Policing to advance a “revolution” in law enforcement.

Mayor Schaaf gets to make the final decision about who will become the next chief. She can select any one of these four candidates, or reject all of them and ask for a new slate.

The candidates all submitted applications in response to a job posting that was written by the Police Commission and asked for leaders who want to “dismantle mechanisms of discrimination.”

Editor’s note: this post was updated November 6 to include video of the forum.

Before joining The Oaklandside as News Editor, Darwin BondGraham was a freelance investigative reporter covering police and prosecutorial misconduct. He has reported on gun violence for The Guardian and was a staff writer for the East Bay Express. He holds a doctorate in sociology from UC Santa Barbara and was the co-recipient of the George Polk Award for local reporting in 2017. He is also the co-author of The Riders Come Out at Night, a book examining the Oakland Police Department's history of corruption and reform.