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Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong now patrolling sideline as Bishop O'Dowd HS basketball coach

Former Oakland Police Chief Armstrong coaching youth basketball
Former Oakland Police Chief Armstrong coaching youth basketball 03:31

Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has a new beat in Oakland; he now patrols the sideline as a coach for the Bishop O'Dowd High School boys basketball team.

"For the first month or so they didn't know who I was," said Armstrong. "They was, like, 'Oh he's just coach.' And now recently they're like, 'Oh, that's Chief Armstrong.'"

After more than two decades working in the Oakland Police Department, Armstrong was fired by Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao in February. His termination came following the release of a report alleging he mishandled a misconduct case against an Oakland police sergeant accused in a hit-and-run case. In September, a follow-up report concluded that many of the complaints about Armstrong lacked supporting evidence and suggested that he may have been fired in violation of his First Amendment rights.

Armstrong has been fighting to get his old job back. In the meantime, he said it was an easy decision when his friend and longtime Dragons head coach Lou Richie asked him to help out with the boys' varsity basketball squad.

Richie said Armstrong's real-life experience has been "invaluable" to the program; the former chief also has plenty of experience on the hardwood. He played for Oakland's McClymonds High School and Sacramento State.

"When you're giving [the players] tips, they can respect that," said Armstrong. "Particularly when they hear that you played in college, they go, 'Okay, I'll listen to you a little bit more because I know you have some experience.'"

The players agree and know they have a strong mentor bringing the energy on the court.

"Yeah, I didn't know he played, actually, until recently. I didn't even know he was chief of police until a few practices ago," said student-athlete Jake Johnson. "Yeah, he definitely brings, like, he's always positive. You know he knows what he's talking about."

"He definitely has a lot of experience under his belt and just a lot of knowledge to transfer to the younger generation," said student-athlete Leo Chapman.

"It's a perfect segue for how you should enjoy your retirement; being around young people that give you energy, watch them develop and give them any kind of help that you can," Armstrong said about his new role as an assistant coach. "It feels like I'm back at the home place where I used to be."

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