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By Jamauri Bowles                     Follow East Palo Alto Today on
East Palo Alto Today                     Facebook    Twitter         Blog    
August 8, 2014                          
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Updated August 10, 2014


Graphic for community meet and greet                       

On Saturday, August 9, a 10-member community panel, appointed by the East Palo Alto City Council, will interview three candidates who were selected as finalists for the chief of police position in East Palo Alto  The panel will interview the three candidates from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. During this time, each of the three will meet individually for 20 minutes with the East Palo Alto City Council members for informal interviews.

Later in the afternoon on the same day, the candidates will be introduced publicly at a community meet and greet session that will take place in the East Palo Alto City Hall Chambers and Community Room from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. This session will take place in the Municipal Building, located at 2415 University Avenue in East Palo Alto.

East Palo Alto’s current city manager, Magda González, has the responsibility of selecting the city’s next chief of police from the three candidates.  She is expected to make her decision after considering the input and feedback received from the community panel and the city council.

The final three candidates, who will greet the community Saturday, were chosen from a field of thirty-four candidates who applied to the city to be its new police chief. Six of the candidates were chosen to continue to the interview stage. They were interviewed by two panels on July 30. The interview stage culminated with three of those candidates recommended to move forward.

Barbara Powell, the assistant city manager for the City of East Palo Alto, said that the city contracted with the recruitment firm, Bob Murray & Associates, which has previously recruited for the city. The firm met with city officials on July 24 to go through the 34 applications it had received for the police chief position. The application required a cover letter, résumé and references.

It has taken the city months to get this far in the process of selecting a new chief of police for the city.  Since Ron Davis, East Palo Alto’s former chief left last fall after serving eight years in the position, the city has had three interim police chiefs.

At its council meeting on June 17, the East Palo Alto City Council approved the appointment of Steve Belcher as the interim chief, making him the third interim chief. Belcher succeeded Lee Violett when Violett reached the 960 hour work limit imposed by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), just as Violett succeeded Federico Rocha when he reached the 960 hour work limit. Rocha was the first interim chief following Davis’ departure. Nine hundred and 60 hours is the maximum amount of time allowed for a retiree to work and still maintain his or her retirement benefits under the CalPERS system.

Belcher’s official term as interim chief began on July 1. He also served as the interim chief in East Palo Alto nearly 10 years ago. Before his retirement in 2003, Belcher was the police chief in Santa Cruz for nine years. Since his retirement, he has served as an interim chief for cities throughout California.

When the community meet and greet session with the three finalists ends this Saturday afternoon, the East Palo Alto community can expect that the long wait for the city’s new chief will soon be over. González is expected to select the winning candidate the week of August 18. So, East Palo Alto should have a new police chief by the end of August. Once selected, the new chief will be presented to the East Palo Alto City Council and to the community in September, when the council's recess is over.


This article was written by Jamauri Bowles. To contact the author, send an email to epatoday@epatoday.org.