When Oakland Mayor Jean Quan appointed Sean Whent to be the city's interim police chief last year, some City Hall observers were skeptical. After all, Whent had no real command experience and was only 38 years old at the time. Plus, the unassuming Whent lacks the charisma of prior chiefs, and the police union couldn't stand him because he used to run the department's internal affairs division. If that weren't enough, Oakland was in the grips of a robbery epidemic and an out-of-control violent crime problem when Whent was appointed. But fast-forward fourteen months, and suddenly far fewer people are talking about Oakland's rising crime numbers anymore. That's because they've dropped significantly under Whent. As of July 1, violent crime is down in Oakland in every major category, including homicides, which have declined by 16 percent. And robberies? They've plummeted 38 percent. Plus, the department has made more progress in living up to court-ordered reforms under Whent than at any time in years. No wonder Quan promoted him to be permanent chief in May.
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