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New Oakland police, fire chiefs named

on February 1, 2012

Teresa Reed, Oakland’s new fire chief, answers questions from reporters at a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday morning.

The last time he served as the interim Chief of Police for the Oakland Police Department, Howard Jordan was passed over for the permanent position.

That won’t happen a second time.

Jordan, who has been serving as interim chief since Anthony Batts resigned in early October, was appointed to the job a on permanent basis by Mayor Jean Quan at a press conference at City Hall on Wednesday morning. Jordan served also served as interim chief before Batts got the job, after former chief Wayne Tucker resigned in 2009.

Jordan, a 24-year veteran of the department, said he “shed a tear of joy” when he got a phone call from Quan last week informing him he got the job.

“It was a very long and arduous road, but it was very gratifying to get the phone call,” Jordan said. “It was one of those moments that I’ll cherish.”

Quan also appointed a new fire chief—Teresa Reed, formerly the assistant chief of San Jose’s fire department, who becomes the city’s first female fire chief. Reed is also the first female African-American in the country to lead the fire department of a major metropolitan city.

Jordan becomes the head of the police department at a tumultuous time, with numerous clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters thrusting the department into the national news spotlight, and on the heels of a recent decision by a federal judge that the department must get the approval of a federal monitor on major police actions. The department has also been hit with a host of layoffs over the past two years, reducing the number of officers from 836 when Jordan was acting chief in 2009 to 636 currently.

“This actually the perfect moment to step in because I have an opportunity to demonstrate to the public, the officers, my colleagues, that the Oakland Police Department is a good department,” Jordan said. “And I intend to lead it in that direction.”

Jordan listed Occupy Oakland and “getting into compliance with the settlement agreement” as two of the biggest challenges of the job, along with “reducing crime, staying within budget and working with the community.”

Quan, who said she has worked with Jordan for more than 20 years, said she knew he was the right person for the job, but it took a while for his appointment because city officials have been “preoccupied” with crime-prevention plans and the Occupy Oakland protests.

“Howard Jordan knows this department better than probably any other chief that has been recently appointed,” Quan said. “He’s come up the ranks, he’s widely respected, he has a very good relationship with the federal monitors. So he was the clear choice.”

Reed is also a longtime public safety officer, and this is her first appointment as a fire department chief. Reed has lived in Oakland for 22 years and began working for the San Jose Fire Department in 1986.  She replaces Mark Hoffman, who has been serving as interim fire chief since February.

Reed said it was an honor to be named to the position.

“Women have been leaders of fire departments for a long time, but for a black woman, and to watch us progress, I just think is great,” she said. “It’s not something to dwell on because we still have to go to work and get the job done.”

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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