New police, fire chiefs officially sworn in during ceremony
on March 15, 2012
City of Oakland Chief of Police Howard Jordan remembers the exact day he arrived in the city—May 5, 1985, when he was a Naval officer in his fifth and final year of service, working at the Oakland Navy Hospital.
Jordan, who was born in Guyana and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, said he fell in love with Oakland right away and knew he wanted to stay when his tour was up. After helping an officer detain a robbery suspect at 73rd and MacArthur, he said he knew he wanted to become an Oakland police officer.
“That feeling of accomplishment, of contributing to making Oakland safe, is what drove me to become an Oakland police officer,” Jordan told a group of Oakland police officers, firefighters, and their families as he was officially sworn in as Chief of Police in a badge-pinning ceremony on Thursday morning at the City Hall Rotunda building in downtown Oakland.
Oakland Mayor Jean Quan named Jordan to the post on February 1st, after he’d served as interim chief since Anthony Batts resigned in early October. Quan also appointed Teresa Reed to be the city’s new fire chief that day, and Reed was also officially sworn in Thursday. In addition, six other firefighters and nine police officers were promoted and sworn in to their new positions, including the assistant police chief, Anthony Toribio. Quan and City Council president Larry Reid (District 7) spoke at the ceremony.
After city clerk LaTonda Simmons swore in the newly promoted firefighters and police officers, a family member presented them with their badge. Jordan’s badge was presented to him by his wife, Vangie, with his two daughters standing by her side.
Jordan’s ascension to the top of the OPD included a stop at every rank in the department, including holding the job of interim chief twice, he noted in his speech. Jordan, who has worked in the department for 24 years, said this experience makes him the right person to lead the department.
“Because of my experience, I know all too well the challenges and obligations that are set forth before me and I’m prepared to lead this department forward,” he said.
Jordan takes the job at a trying time for the department, which has been slow to reform to the terms of a negotiated settlement agreement from a lawsuit nine years ago, according to a report from a federal judge in January, and is threated with a possible federal takeover. Also, the city’s homicide rate rose last year and the department has 200 fewer officers than when Jordan was interim chief in 2009.
Along with reducing violent crime, Jordan said coming under compliance of the negotiated settlement agreement is a top priority.
“Know this, the Oakland Police Department will comply with the terms of the negotiated settlement agreement on my watch,” Jordan said Thursday, to applause.
Reed, who has lived in Oakland for the past 25 years, was officially named the city’s first African-American and first woman fire chief. Reed thanked her fire department colleagues and said she was going to bring “professionalism through consistent and collaborative leadership.”
“I am deeply honored to serve Oakland,” Reed said.
After the ceremony, Quan said in an interview that Reed and Jordan are important members of the “team” of city staff she’s putting together, along with city administrator Deanna Santana.
“They’re both quieter, not as flashy as some people, but they’re sure-footed and hardworking and gain respect,” Quan said.
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