Howard Jordan, Oakland’s Police Chief since October 10th, 2011, resigned today. Well, he stated in a letter to his officers that, effective immediately, he is “on medical leave and taking steps towards medical retirement” but no one was fooled. Howard Jordan, possibly the most infamous Oakland Police Chief ever (and there’s plenty of competition), saw the writing on the wall and jumped into retirement using a golden parachute.
… last week, the ((newly appointed Federal Compliance Director)) overseer, Thomas Frazier, faulted department brass for not holding accountable rogue officers and commanders when they violate department rules.
“The report was a condemnation of his leadership,” said attorney John Burris, who represented plaintiffs in the decade-old Riders police brutality case that first put the department under federal monitoring.
“I think the chief took a pre-emptive approach and retired before he was asked to leave,” Burris said.
Jordan’s effective resignation came hours before a consulting team, hired by the City Administration, was to report on ways to improve the Oakland Police. No one thinks that was a coincidence either. (The press conference for the report was postponed until tomorrow, Thursday.)
Just days after his appointment as interim chief, Howard Jordan presided over the beating and tear gassing of Occupy Oaklanders. Sleeping in tents or peacefully hanging out at Oscar Grant Plaza in the early morning hours of October 25th, 2011 (here and here), suddenly upon them were phalanxes of police in full riot armor. That evening, he oversaw the near-fatal shooting of Scott Olsen and the turning of downtown Oakland into what looked like a war zone. One week later he was in charge when Kayvan Sabeghi nearly died in police custody after having been beaten by police and Scott Campbell was shot with a less-than-lethal round by OPD with no provocation and presenting no threat.
Six months later, with Jordan still in charge despite plenty of calls to resign, Alan Blueford was shot and killed by an Oakland Police officer. Jordan was the buck’s stopping point over what might charitably be called a horrible fiasco and what was in all likelihood a deliberate campaign to lie to the press and smear the dead man’s reputation. Three weeks later at a town hall, he could not even pronounce “Blueford” correctly (repeatedly saying “Bueford”) while the family looked on appalled.
As Occupy events wound down Oakland’s violent crime rate was rising and the 2012 murder rate was one of the highest on record.
All the while under Federal supervision due to the Riders’ 2003 Negotiated Settlement Agreement, OPD’s compliance record was so bad and getting worse under Jordan that the plaintiffs in the decade-old suit demanded OPD be put into Federal Receivership. Only a last minute face-saving plan to instead appoint a “Compliance Director” in December, 2012 saved Jordan’s skin for the nonce.
I swear that Howard Jordan seemed to have no sense. Just days ago, on May 1st, at least twenty of OPD’s scarce sworn line officers (and who knows how many undercovers) were deployed to walk twenty yards behind a totally peaceful march for miles instead of deploying in high-crime neighbhorhoods where in recent weeks a number of gun battles have erupted.
All this is well known, at least to a cadre of watchdogs who currently keep an eye on OPD.
What is not widely known however is that ten years ago Howard Jordan was the lieutenant in charge of an OPD squad which brutalized Iraqi War protesters at the Port of Oakland, being one of the causes of a massive lawsuit which resulted in a large settlement and the creation of a ‘Crowd Control Policy’ to which OPD and Oakland signed on.
NAME: Lt. H Jordan
ASSIGNMENT: MFF Commander
The Tango Team was ordered by Lt. Jordan to address this aggressive group with less than lethan munitions. My Tango Team fired numerous rounds while I address pockets of resistant crowds with five Stinger Grenades…
(Sgt. E. Tracey, OPD Additional Information Report, RD# 03-32094, 7 Apr 03)
Said crowd control policy was honored only in breach under Jordan’s tenure. Ironically, this crowd control policy Jordan was one of the main reasons for as a Lieutenant should have stopped Scott Olsen, Kayvan Sabeghi and Scott Campbell from being injured under his watch as Chief – as well as preventing one of the largest mass arrests of recent times; that of January 28th, 2012, when some four hundred Occupy Oakland protesters were kettled and then thrown into jail.
While no one thinks for a moment his successor will be much better, there are likely very few people in Oakland sad to see Howard Jordan, aka “HoJo” depart.