The San Leandro Police Department has had a checkered history. Until the 1980s, the Police Department was instrumental in keeping San Leandro white by following and harassing black people who came to town. While the Department diversified in the 90s, it’s still overwhelmingly white and male. In recent years, it’s been the object of sexual harassment lawsuits both by female officers and private citizens. While we haven’t had any widespread scandals, there have been grumblings here are and there about police misconduct and racism. The shooting of an unarmed woman late last year and the mauling of a dog by an SLPD dog – and the complete lack of accountability by the officers involved, also raise concerns about the professionalism of the Police Department.
Personally, my experiences with the SLPD have mostly been positive. Officers have been professional and somewhat helpful in the few personal encounters I’ve had with them. However, I am concerned about the pettiness of the Police Union and its members. They’ve been boycotting the Zocalo Coffeehouse for more than a year because its owner, Tim Holmes, was the campaign manager for Stephen Cassidy’s successful Mayoral run. Cassidy advocated for Officers to pay their own share of pension contributions. The Police’s pettiness turned dangerous when they did not show up to direct traffic at the 2010 annual Safe Streets, Safe Treats Halloween event, organized by Holmes and other businesses in the Dutton/Bancroft area. That meant that hundreds of children were left to cross two very busy streets without any help. The Police had helped with traffic every year since the event was started, and had said they would be there last year as well. It’s one thing to be mad at a business owner, but to put the lives of hundreds of children at risk because of your personal grudge is unconscionable. I’ve recently experienced the Police Union’s lack of professionalism myself. When I publicly questioned the excuse given by Police officers as to why most of them do not live in town, Mike Sobek, the head of the union, “suggested” I move out of town.
But my limited experiences, or the few accounts of such experiences found online, paint a very partial picture. I’d like to hear from all readers about their experiences, whether bad or good, professional or unprofessional – as well as their suggestions as to what could be done to improve the SLPD. So, if you have something to say, post it as a comment. You can do so anonymously if you like.
The problems go back a lot longer than the Eighties. The pride and poise of the department has been disturbed and out of center for a long time. Many chiefs have come and gone and always the Cowboy posturing has reigned supreme.
The first place to look is the Cold Case of Officer Frederick Raymond Haller, who died after 5 years in the department at the age of 31. He was shot seven times and killed as he sat in his car while on patrol on April 20, 1961. He was survived by his expectant wife and two children. His killer was never indentified.
That the SLPD has left one of its own without a solution is a downer of great magnitude. While his name is immortalized on the wall, the circumstances are not well known and the unsolved nature casts a pall over the department which has not been outgrown and replaced with true professionalism.
Eight years later came Rookie Reserve Officer Donald F. Spingola. Officer Spingola had just 3 months with the department when he was killed by Friendly Fire on October 1, 1969. A ricochet bullet struck him after a fellow officer fired at a fleeing burglary suspect. The bullet struck the ground and then entered Spingola.
These errors and esprit have never been erased successfully and are at the heart of the SLPD. Until these go away things will never be right.
I rarely got help from the police dept. in S.L. People would violate the noise ordinance laws at all hours so that I often got only about 2 hours of sleep every few days. Sexual predators were everywhere in the city and I was stalked by at least 15 different mentally ill people in a 30 year time. One man had the same last name as one of the detectives at the police dept. I had a restraining order against him and only one officer honored it. This man had a history of stalking and sexually assaulting women and little girls and the DA let the case go for lack of “evidence” when he was caught in the act. I was raped twice, and the main reaction from citizens was I must have liked it and somebody should enjoy me. The final straw for me was when I called to get the police to get someone to stop using heavy duty equipment under my apartment at around 2 a.m. They said I had no rights and beat me up and sent me to John George on a 5150 when I quoted the laws that were being violated. I just wanted them to get the guy to stop for the night. I ran away and moved to another city very far away. I’m terrified to go to see my elderly parents alone, but have no one to got with me, but I don’t feel safe. My arm was in a sling from that beating when I moved. The place is so corrupt. I was only about 8 years old when someone burned a cross on a black neighbors lawn back in the ’60’s. I don’t think anything was done and that family moved. What can be done?
I’m so sorry that those things happened to you. I can relate to similar experiences in Oakland where nobody cares – who were supposed and paid to listen even until things escalated and got out of hand. There is too much crime in my area and the sexist no-lives are gratified by this to eventually torture any normal human being different from their strain so as to make normal living impossible not being able to feel safe and pursue life to its fullest as the best people deserve. It’s downright ironic that those paid by us to serve and protect go back on their word and do just the opposite such as harassing normal dressed citizens at bus stops who look nothing similar to the usual criminal description that everybody sees in public and it’s downright betrayal to treat legitimate complainants and victims as worst than criminals to deserve less attention which then results from being uncooperative on the police part to crimes being deliberately and disrespectfully ignored or worsened to torture innocent people. I suggest everybody research where they consider to live to reduce their probabilities of being a crime target or to avoid all the potential strangers who are so different from you and you cannot relate to them in the deepest sense such as for a young girl or woman should avoid any contact with the opposite individuals to her features. It is better to be alone than to be with somebody you cannot fully trust and relate to on an interpersonal level. Even though these things are beyond disgusting, we should try to make better things out of them by sharing our stories, building support for each other, and creating change for the better. There are strength in numbers, so we shouldn’t be alone in this unnecessarily messed up world. We have to build a support network of people who truly care about us and so that we have our army to deal with theirs. My deepest condolences go out to you and your loved ones.