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By Henrietta J. Burroughs                Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                     Facebook    Twitter         Blog    
August 11, 2014                          
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Three police chief finalists
                                                        Photo by Henrietta J. Burroughs
This photo shows the three finalists who are vying for the position of police
chief in East Palo Alto. Standing left to right are Brian Ferrante, Tom McCarthy
and Albert Pardini.                       

The East Palo Alto community had an opportunity to meet the three finalists who are in the running to be East Palo Alto’s next police chief. The introductions took place at a community “meet and greet” event this past Saturday in the East Palo Alto City Council Chambers.

During the event, which ran from 3:30 p.m. to about 5 p.m. community members and the press were introduced to Brian Ferrante, Thomas McCarthy and Albert Pardini, who are vying to be East Palo Alto's police chief.

According to the original format for the meeting, the three candidates were only going to meet individually with interested attendees at the event. But after numerous requests from community members, it was decided to allow each of the candidates to address the assembled group who came to see them.

So, all three finalists made brief presentations. Ferrante was the first to speak and he said that he had just retired after 20 and a half years with the San Jose Police Department. He said he was a captain in charge of the city's Foothill Division, which encompasses “everything east of Highway 101.”

Ferrante described the Foothill Division as an area that was "in a lot of ways very similar to the demographics of East Palo Alto and had a lot of the same issues." He said, “This was a fantastic opportunity to come up here and work for you, to work for the community and bring the police department and the community closer together to work to solve the problems. I’m realy excited about the opportunity.” He offered to answer the audience’s questions personally after the presentations were completed.

Albert Pardini spoke next and said that he worked for the San Francisco Police Department for the last 31 years.  In remarks that were longer than the two other candidates, Pardini said that he thought that being the chief of police in East Palo Alto would be a great opportunity and that he lived 10 minutes away. He added that he had been watching East Palo Alto for years, because one of his assignments in San Francisco was the Bayview, where he was the captain of the station, which made him the chief of the area.

He said that there were a lot of similarities to the type of crimes that were occurring in the Bayview as well as in East Palo Alto. So he used to watch to see the strategies that were working in East Palo Alto and see if "they would work and mesh together with the problems" that he was working on in the Bayview. Pardini emphasized that he had a vast amount of experience with community policing and said, among other things, that he would start out with town hall meetings and weekly emails.

The third candidate to speak was Tom McCarthy who said that he has been with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department for the past 31 years. McCarthy has served as the chief of police in Dublin, CA for four years and he said that he has had a lot of different assignments over the course of his career that have shaped who he is and what he does. He explained that a paradigm shift occurred when he was a sergeant with the Alameda Sheriff's Department when he had to implement community policing – starting it off, fixing it and tweaking it. He said that he had a history of being a teacher for the sheriffs department and understands staffing level questions and different benchmarks for measuring public safety. He said that it was really critical that the police are talking to the community and getting the community’s views.

After listening to the candidates, community members at the meeting spoke with each other and shared their concerns. Eve Sutton, an East Palo resident, gathered some of these concerns during the meeting and shared them in emails with various community members afterwards.

In the ideas they shared with each other, community residents said that they wanted a police chief who is strong in the following areas: First, the new chief should be able to communicate with all segments of the community: Stanford folks, Spanish speakers, Tongan & Samoan communities, and immigrants and really communicate with residents.

Second, the chief should be able to do grant writing to bring in new resources to the police department.

Third, under the new chief, the East Palo Alto Police Department should communicate and uphold East Palo Alto’s special position with regard to not reporting illegal immigrants to ICE.

Fourth, residents said that they wanted the new chief to uphold East Palo Alto’s special position on Operation Cease Fire, which they said was different from neighboring police districts. They wanted East Palo Alto residents who commit minor offenses in other cities to be brought back to East Palo Alto to stay in the Operation Cease Fire program.

Fifth, they felt that it is important for the new chief to incorporate police chaplains into police work

Sixth, the chief should maintain and enhance the city’s use of ShotSpotter and keep the city’s contract with the company that provides the device.

Seventh, the chief should pursue alternative sentencing and restorative justice, especially for first offenders

Eighth, community residents said that they wanted the chief to be an advocate of Youth Court.

Ninth, they emphasized the importance of continuing Parolee Re-Entry programs in the community and tenth, they wanted the new chief to hire a crime analyst for the department.

At the end of Saturday’s meet and greet with the police chief candidates, East Palo Alto’s Assistant City Manager, Barbara Powell, invited those who attended the meeting to provide feedback to her office on the candidates. She said the feedback would be given to Magda González, the city manager, who will make the final selection.

Given the specific requirements that community residents expressed that are presented in this article, it is very clear the qualities, skills and the mindset community residents want their chief of police to have to bring to his new job.


This article was written by Henrietta J. Burroughs. To contact the author, send an email to epatoday@epatoday.org.


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