Top NavTop NavTop Nav

Oakland police chief returns to alma mater to share real life stories with students


Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan visited CSUEB to talk with Criminal Justice Administration students. (Photo: Diane Daniel)

  • April 19, 2012

Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan, MPA ’06, returned to his alma mater -- California State University, East Bay -- April 18 to share real life experiences with students in the Department of Criminal Justice Administration's “Community Corrections” class. He was a “Dean’s Invited Guest” of Kathleen Rountree, dean of the university's College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Although admitting to not being education-oriented in high school, Jordan credited two mentors and determination with getting him back in school, where he realized his love to learn.

He had but 12 hours of college credit when he was hired by the Oakland Police Department 24 years ago. However, buoyed by his wife -- who had earned a degree while working full-time, giving birth to two children, and being a successful parent -- he knew it was possible. He earned his bachelor's degree from another institution and his master's from Cal State East Bay.

Jordan said that those degrees bring "pride, a sense of accomplishment, and an improved understanding of life that aids him with daily, unexpected challenges."

There was no candy-coating as Jordan told the classroom how he become Oakland’s top cop.

“It takes hard work: showing up on time, being physically prepared as well as mentally prepared – ready for work,” he said. 

Even as a rookie Jordan arrived two hours early to prepare for street patrol shift. Now a 12-14-hour day is normal, and routine.

He respects and expects that work ethnic in others, along with honesty, courage, and character.

“I can train for competence, but I can’t train for character," the police chief said. "You have to come here willing to work as a team, to push yourself, to be determined to show up for work each day."

Jordan expects honesty to extend to personal shortcomings (such as when he admitted he wasn’t suited to motorcycle patrol). Courage, in his mind, doesn’t end with finding the bad person, but extends to advising supervisors when something is wrong.

Jordan, Oakland’s 47th chief of police, was born in the West Indies and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., by a single mother with a powerful work ethnic. In addition to his CSUEB degree, he is a graduate of the 219th FBI National Academy and the Police Executive Research Forum’s Senior Management Institute in Policing.

He has served as president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement, and is a member of the California Police Chiefs Association and the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training.

Jordan heads a department comprised of 651 officers and more than 350 non-sworn personnel.

Rountree founded the “Dean’s Invited Guest” program in early 2011 to bring a variety of distinguished visitors to campus to inspire students and connect them with the community. Information on the prrogram is available at:

© California State University, East Bay. All Rights Reserved.