Finding the Next SJPD Chief

Sunday, Sep 5, 2010  |  Updated 11:15 AM PDT
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Finding the Next SJPD Chief

San Jose residents want the replacement for police Chief Rob Davis  to have experience working with immigrant communities, to communicate well  with his staff and with the community, and to be fair and objective.

Davis announced in late July that he would retire at the end of  October. He has been chief for six years and with the department for 30  years.

A nationwide search for Davis' replacement will begin soon, but  the city says it will not rule out any internal candidates being considered  for the post.

The city has contracted with Teri Black-Brann, of Teri Black & Stone, a public sector executive recruitment firm, to conduct the recruitment  through mid-October. Part of the process was holding citywide community  meetings to gather input from the public.

On Aug. 24, about two-dozen people attended the first in a series  of five meetings that ended Thursday to give the public a chance to weigh in  on the recruitment process.

Among the attendees at the meeting Tuesday night at the Roosevelt  Community Center were Councilmen Kansen Chu, Pierluigi Oliverio and Sam  Liccardo, and City Manager Debra Figone.

Attendees were separated into four groups to discuss the most  important issues they would like the new police chief to address, and the  skills and characteristics they want the new police chief to have.

Among the qualities at the top of the list were honesty and  fairness. They said they want a police chief who is able to acknowledge  weaknesses within the organization and who is capable of being objective and  admitting fault.

It was important to many that the new chief have experience  working with diverse communities, such as victim organizations, the mentally  ill, homeless, and disabled.

They said it would be nice if he or she were bilingual, or even  tri-lingual.

Community members said they want to see a commitment to  strengthening community policing programs. Janice Rombeck, a freelance  journalist, suggested that rotations be longer to allow beat officers to  become better-acquainted with the community.

Catherine Vanderwaart, a program analyst with the American  Leadership Forum of Silicon Valley, said she would like the new chief to have  a strong track record of implementing programs to reduce crime.

Pat Mitchell, executive director of Silicon Valley Faces, a  nonprofit organization that supports crime victims, said she wants a chief  who values transparency and would make police records accessible for  assisting victims of violence.

She said she wants the new chief to help the Police Department  work closely with organizations like hers.

"That relationship really needs to be strengthened," Mitchell  said.

For their part, residents said they would make more of an effort  to attend community meetings, to be active in the community and assist with  outreach efforts.

Black-Brann said she was impressed by the turnout and appreciated  the feedback.

 "I'm very encouraged," Black-Brann said. "The willingness to show  up and engage... how committed this community is to public safety is  incredibly impressive."

She said the goal is to identify a new police chief by the end of  the year.

"The comprehensive approach the city is using to get feedback  demonstrates how serious we are about hearing the voices that are out there,"  Black-Brann said.
 

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