Dear City of Oakland:
I know you are looking for a new Police Chief. Please take ours! SLPD Chief Sandra Spagnoli doesn’t work cheap and crime may have gone up under her, but she speaks well and smiles enough. Surely appearances do count. She fooled us, she can fool your residents as well.
Spagnoli is a hard worker (sure, she has about 90 days off a year, in addition to weekends, but that’s standard for public executives) and has an unmitigated commitment to social cleansing. She doesn’t discriminate between gays, the mentally ill, blacks, liberals or even gun-advocates – in her book everyone is a criminal that needs to be put down. Dirty cops, however, are to be left alone – at least until they are so overt in their dealings that citizens end up alerting the Mayor and the DA. But if you want your racial tensions – in particular those between blacks and Asians – to rise, she has a recipe for that!
One teenzy weenzy little problem with Spagnoli is that she’s not particularly married to facts. I mean she loves facts, as long as she gets to invent them, but independently gathered and confirmed facts are nasty things that get in the way of actual police work. Police Chiefs’ opinions should be trusted without question, and if reality interferes with your trust, then you really should disavow reality.
Take for example her claim that crime rates have gone up in San Leandro because of the release of prisoners due to re-alignment. It’s a good story, one that she can use to get surveillance cameras that she can use to spy on troublemakers (aka community activists), so why should the fact that there has been no early release of prisoners stop her from telling it? Or take her opinion that marijuana is a gateway drug and that marijuana dispensaries attract crime – sure, the studies that look at the actual data show that those are myths, but shouldn’t her intuition count for more than pesky studies? Her latest kick is surveillance cameras. She knows in her gut that they work and we should believe her despite all the data that shows that they neither prevent nor help solve crimes.
You should also not hold it against her that she often makes false statements to the City Council. It’s not as if the Council would rely on what she says in order to pass the ordinances she advocates, right? For example, can we really blame her for telling the Council her office received one complaint a week about backyard chickens, when in reality they only have records about one complaint being filed in the last two years? She needed the Council to have a good excuse to give the Police access to people’s backyards without probable cause in violation of the 4th amendment, so can she be blamed for a little white lie? And why does the Council need to know exactly how many license plate cameras the Police Department has? So what if it’s 5 rather than the 3 she acknowledged? They’re both single digits, right?
Look, our City Manager, Chris Zapata, is perfectly OK with her “truth impairment” as is our Mayor, Stephen Cassidy. Surely the Oakland City Council and Mayor Quan won’t have higher standards than their San Leandro equivalents.
There are many more things that you can praise Sandra Spagnoli for. She has no patience for street musicians or artists – if you want someone to intimidate your budding arts community, she’s the woman for you. And she has pretty much eliminated all complaints against SLPD officers. Sure, she did it by getting rid of the Internal Affairs Department, but the non-numbers of complaints speak for themselves. Finally, she is so committed to her law enforcement job, that she doesn’t let the law stand on her way. Really, do you want a Police Officer who respects the law or someone who catches others not doing it?
So in my name and in that of many, many, many other citizens of San Leandro, I ask you, I plead with you, I beg you to hire her and get her off our hands.
PS I forgot to mention that Chief Spagnoli is already very experienced with the Oakland crime problem. Indeed, when she’s not blaming realignment for San Leandro’s crime problem, she’s blaming Oakland. She already has a plan to put surveillance cameras aimed at the Oakland border to know which of your miscreant citizens dare to come into our town.
Spagnoli also has a plan to deal with youth crime: eliminate youth. She tried to put it into effect on Halloween when, after promising crossing guards for a Trick-or-Treat events put out by local businesses, she prohibited them at the last minute. Unfortunately for the Chief, nobody got killed, but I know she won’t let that deter her from finding ways to endanger kids’ lives n the future.