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.