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Oakland has gone through three police chiefs in nine days amidst sex and text scandals

"I am here to run a police department, not a frat house," said Oakland's mayor Libby Schaaf as she announced the resignation of yet another police chief on Friday.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, left, speaks beside Oakland Chief of Police Sean Whent in Oakland, California. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Oakland Police Department in California has revealed itself to be a real-life House of Cards: The city has now gone through three police chiefs in just nine days in the wake of a series of scandals involving alleged sexual misconduct and racist text messages.

Paul Figueroa took the position of acting police chief on Wednesday, replacing Ben Fairow as the department's top cop. Just two days later, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf held a press conference to announce that Figueroa had resigned his duties and told reporters that an internal investigation was underway, probing the existence of racist text messages and emails exchanged by officers.


A racist text messaging scandal could potentially further embarrass a department which is already wracked by a widening scandal concerning the alleged sexual exploitation of a teenage girl.

While announcing Figueroa's resignation on Friday, Schaaf used strong language to condemn what she described as the "toxic" and "macho" culture inside the department.

"I am here to run a police department, not a frat house," Schaaf said angrily. "We are hell-bent on rooting out this disgusting culture."

Related: Another Police Officer in California Lost His Job For Sending Racist Messages

The East Bay Express, a local paper, reported last week that perhaps as many as 21 officers from the Oakland police department and other area law enforcement agencies had sex with a teenage sex worker, some while she was still underage.

Schaaf did not provide details about the ongoing investigation into the sex scandal, but did say that Oakland was "on the verge of closing an investigation that centers on racist text messages sent by police officers"

According to local broadcaster NBC Bay Area, some of the messages contain racial slurs and images of the Ku Klux Klan. Schaaf also did not explain what Figueroa's connection, if any, was to the two growing controversies. Former Oakland Police Chief, Sean Whent, led the department since May 2013 and had received praise from Schaaf for tackling gun-crime and murders in the city. Whent announced his resignation last Thursday, one day before the East Bay Express story came out. Schaaf said that Whent had made a "personal choice."


Schaaf appointed Fairow as Whent's replacement, but changed her mind and removed him on Wednesday, after she said she received "information" that caused her to question his ability to lead the department. Schaaf said she would not appoint another acting chief to replace Figueroa for the time being, and officers would instead report to City Administrator Sabrina Landreth.

Related: San Francisco Police Order Officers to Anti-Harassment Class After Racist and Homophobic Texts Released

"I feel that this is an appropriate time to place civilian oversight over this police department," Schaaf said.

Oakland's police department joins a string of other law enforcement agencies across the country which have seen major upheaval after being rattled by scandals. Just across the bay, San Francisco's department became recently embroiled in a similar scandal involving racist and homophobic text messages.

That, and a series of controversial officer-involved shooting, led the eventual resignation of SFPD's chief. The heads of law enforcement agencies in Chicago, Baltimore and Ferguson were also recently ousted following recent scandals. Tom Angel, Los Angeles County Sheriff Department's former chief of staff, also resigned recently over racist emails he sent from his work account while at his previous job with the Burbank Police Department.