Updated: Retiring Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan Said to Have 'Serious Medical Condition'



There's already been a lot of speculation today about about why Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan abruptly announced his retirement this morning. Jordan cited medical reasons for his decision, but last week, OPD's court-appointed compliance director released a strongly critical report of the department's handling of police misconduct under Jordan's command and made the unprecedented decision to reopen closed cases. In addition, high-priced consultants William Bratton and Robert Wasserman were scheduled to release a separate report today. So the timing of Jordan's retirement announcement raised eyebrows. But City Councilwoman Libby Schaaf said this afternoon that the 47-year-old Jordan really does have "a serious medical condition" that affects his ability to carry out his difficult job. "He is really sick," said Schaaf, who has maintained a close relationship with Jordan and praised his efforts today to reduce crime in Oakland.

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Mayor Jean Quan and City Administrator Deanna Santana are expected to announce this afternoon that they will launch a national search to find Jordan's replacement. The two did not conduct such a search after then-Chief Anthony Batts abruptly resigned in October 2011, just days after a court-appointed monitor released another scathing report on the department's failure to meet mandated reforms. Instead, Quan and Santana promoted Batts' top lieutenant, Jordan.

Assistant Chief Anthony Toribio will take command of the department during the search.

Update 5:20 p.m.: At a press conference this afternoon at police headquarters, Quan said she was "personally very saddened and surprised" about Jordan's retirement. The mayor also admitted that she had not yet spoken to the chief about his decision, but that he had been in contact with Santana today about it.

Santana and Quan refused to answer questions about whether Compliance Director Thomas Frazier or Court Monitor Robert Warshaw had played any role in Jordan leaving, or had indicated prior to his announcement that they wanted him to leave. Santana and Quan also declined to reveal any more information about Jordan's medical problem.

Quan said she also was not sure as to what role Frazier and Warshaw would have in selecting the new chief, but added that she believes they will want to have "input." Both Frazier and Warshaw, the former police chiefs of Baltimore and Rochester, New York, have been highly critical of OPD's failure to adequately deal with problem officers and of the refusal by commanders to discipline rogue cops. The two will likely push for a more reform-minded chief.

Former Hartford, Connecticut Police Chief Patrick Harnett was also on hand at the press conference, and said the Bratton-Wasserman report, which he helped develop, would be released and discussed fully tomorrow. But Harnett noted that one of the main recommendations in the report is to improve OPD's investigative abilities, especially when it comes to solving robberies, burglaries, and shootings. OPD has one of the worst records in the nation for solving crimes.