This letter was published by the San Leandro Times on Nov. 7, 2013
Chief of Police Sandra Spagnoli is out of control. Endangering the lives of children by canceling the crossing guards at the Safe Streets Halloween event is only her latest stunt. Previous examples include using department resources to unlawfully lobby the City Council, falsely arresting people for sex crimes and eliminating Internal Affairs.
The Chief also has the habit of providing the City Council with false information, what City Manager Chris Zapata labels “mis-speaking.” The Chief, for example, told the Council that the SLPD needed to search the backyards of chicken owners’ homes without a warrant because they get an average of one complaint a week about chickens. A public records search showed just a single complaint filed in the last two years.
The Chief also “mis-spoke” about the number of license plate scanners the Department has (5, not 3), the dangers of over-pollination (none outside strawberry greenhouses), the effects of medical marijuana dispensaries on crime (none) and the effectiveness of surveillance cameras in reducing and solving crimes (very low to none). Just last week, she blamed the increase in crime in San Leandro to prisoners being released early due to realignment; trouble is, law enforcement data shows there have been no such early releases.
“Mis-speaking” to the City Council and lobbying during work hours show a lack of respect for the Mayor and Council members and for the democratic process itself. It’s up to City Manager Zapata to hold her accountable and assure she behaves legally and ethically in her job. The fact that he has failed to do so suggests he lacks the leadership skills necessary for his own position.
The City Council should keep this in mind as they evaluate Zapata’s performance in the upcoming months.
Margarita Lacabe, San Leandro
Update: On this week San Leandro Times, POA President Isaac Benabou not-quite-responds to my letter by praising his boss, Chief Sandra Spagnoli, and accusing me of “misleading” readers. Alas, he does not substantiate his allegation and the only factual assertion he makes in disagreement with my letter, that surveillance cameras “greatly assist” in preventing and solving crimes is wrong. I call on Mr. Benabou to explain his allegations or otherwise apologize. Here is his letter:
This is a reply to last week’s letter to the editor “Accuses Police Chief of Being ‘Out of Control’,” Letters, Nov. 7.”
I am writing this letter to the editor as the voice for the San Leandro Police Officer’s Association. This is my first correspondence to the San Leandro Times as the POA President.
Each week I make a point to read every letter sent to the editor with specific interest in articles that pertain to the Police Department. From time to time there are misleading letters written and published and often by the same author.
In last week’s letter to the editor, the writer expressed her disapproval our of City’s Police Chief and City Manager. There are more to her dislikes for these officials than were mentioned in her letter and my professionalism acts as a barrier to my emotions.
There comes a time when enough is enough! As a 20-year employee of this agency, I’ve never seen so many positive changes and improvements than I have seen in the past three years. A Professional Standards Unit, Chief’s Advisory Board and the creation and implementation of United for Safety is just the beginning.
We have embraced technology by joining facebook, twitter, Nixel, and creating an easy-to-use SLPD Smartphone application, all in an attempt to be more transparent with the community. Yes, technology includes surveillance cameras and license plate readers which both greatly assist in solving and preventing crime.
These are just a few programs implemented over the past three years, all accomplished under the current Police Administration led by Chief Sandra Spagnoli.
So, to the fair and impartial readers out there, please take with a grain of salt the comments and accusations expressed in last week’s letter and know that every hard working member of my organization is committed to the safety and service of the citizens of San Leandro.
— Isaac Benabou, President