OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) — The leadership carousel at the Oakland Police Department continued to spin Wednesday, when the Bay Area city fired its Interim Police Chief Benson Fairow after only six days on the job.
“I have just received information that has caused me to lose confidence in Ben Fairow’s ability to lead the Oakland Police Department at this particular moment in time,” Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said in a statement Wednesday. “OPD staff, members of our community and city leadership deserve to have complete trust and confidence in our chief, especially during this critical transition.”
Fairow, former deputy chief of the Bay Area Rapid Transit police, was tapped as interim leader after Police Chief Sean Whent resigned on Friday.
Whent and Schaaf said he resigned for “personal reasons,” though skeptics believe Schaad forced him out due to an ongoing sex scandal involving as many as a dozen Oakland police officers.
The daughter of a police dispatch worker said she had sex with a dozen officers, some of them when she was as young as 16. One of the officers committed suicide last September and mentioned the affair in his suicide note.
Fairow was appointed in part because of his former affiliation with the Oakland Police Department, having worked there for several years before moving to a leadership position with the BART Police.
Schaaf said state law prevented her from commenting on the information that led to Fairow’s dismissal.
“I made the decision to appoint Ben Fairow. I also own the decision to remove him,” Schaaf said. “I firmly believe that when you make a mistake, you need to own it, and act quickly to correct it.”
The Oakland Police Department has been on shaky ground for a decade, after a federal judge ruled in favor of citizens who claimed a group of four OPD officers kidnapped people, assaulted them, planted evidence and engaged in other scurrilous behavior.
As a result of Allen v. City of Oakland, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson was appointed to oversee mandatory reforms in the police department. While monthly reports indicated progress was being made, the judge in March issued an order citing violations in the internal affairs investigations of the sex scandal.
The department has also been criticized for heavy-handed tactics on protestors and its role in several fatal police shootings.
Schaaf appointed a new interim chief, Assistant Chief Paul Figueroa, while the city conducts a national search.
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