San Leandro police Chief Abdul Pridgen is on paid administrative leave, following allegations that the department’s top cop violated internal policies, city officials confirmed Friday.
Chief Pridgen, who was appointed to the job in July 2021, was placed on the temporary leave Sept. 11, according to a press release from Paul Sanftner, a spokesperson for the City Manager’s Office.
No specific details or clarifications about the allegations have been released. The city has not released any estimated timeline for how long the investigation will take.
In the meantime, the city has tapped Kevin Hart, a 35-year Bay Area law enforcement veteran and former Dublin councilman, to serve as interim chief. After retiring as an Alameda County Sheriff’s deputy, Hart has served as chief of the state Department of Hospitals and in the upscale East Bay enclave of Kensington.
In a statement Friday, San Leandro City Manager Fran Robustelli said that Hart’s “extensive background and proven leadership skills make him an excellent candidate to lead the department while Chief Pridgen is on leave.”
Hart resigned from the Kensington Police Department in October 2016 — four months before his interim contract was scheduled to end. At the time he citied “personal and professional reasons” to end his service early, but also vaguely acknowledged getting caught up in “some highly complex and sensitive issues” with department.
Notably, he was the subject of an investigation related to an incident involving a Kensington sergeant whose gun was stolen by a Reno prostitute he brought to a hotel room. The town’s police board investigated allegations that Hart had wrongfully revealed internal affairs details about a traffic stop involving one of the police board’s members.
And in 2019, records revealed that officers — working under Hart’s leadership — were egregiously abusing their authority to access highly confidential state law-enforcement databases to gather information on an elected official who had been critical of their department. At the time, Hart stood by previous comments that he did not find any evidence of widespread misuse of sensitive records.
Additionally, Hart developed a reputation among local government watchdogs as a “triple-dipper” of public employee pay and benefits packages during that time — raking in more than $370,000 in government salaries and pension in 2015.
Kramer Workplace Investigations, a Danville-based firm, will handle the inquiry into the allegations about Chief Pridgen’s behavior, including conducting interviews and reviewing internal documents.
Prior to joining San Leandro’s force, Chief Pridgen previously led the Seaside Police Department in Monterey County and spent 26 years with the police department of Fort Worth, Texas.