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Decision to Put Oakland Police Chief on Leave Not Punitive, Mayor Sheng Thao Says

Standing on the steps of Oakland City Hall, newly elected Mayor Sheng Thao Saturday said the decision to put the city’s police chief on leave was not punitive.

Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong was placed on administrative leave by Mayor Thao following a report released Wednesday detailing allegations of police misconduct in the Police Department. The alleged misconduct may call into question whether the department can exit the federal oversight it has been under for about 20 years.

However, Mayor Thao said during her Saturday press conference, “I want to make sure that everyone understands that under our administration, that we take these findings seriously and it’s important that we look at taking the corrective action that is needed to make sure that we stay on track to make sure that we get out of the federal oversight.”

The mayor added, “This is about public safety.”

Flanked by members of her administrative staff, Thao said she was in Washington D.C. when the decision to put the chief on leave was announced.

At the press conference, Thao said, “I cannot stand here and tell you that there hasn’t been a decision made.”

A spokeswoman later clarified that Thao accidentally misspoke. “She meant to say ‘I cannot stand here and tell you a decision has been made,’” said Julie Edwards, the mayor’s communications lead.

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