By Henrietta J. Burroughs
East Palo Alto Today
Posted June 2, 2010
Should East Palo Alto’s residents give their Chief of Police Ron Davis references to support his application to be the chief of police in another city?
At least 16 people who either live or work in the City of East Palo Alto answered this question in the affirmative when they decided to attend a meeting on Tuesday, May 25 with representatives from the City of Seattle.
The meeting was convened by One East Palo Alto and it was designed to allow four members of Seattle’s police search committee to hear community representatives share “their working relationship with the East Palo Alto Police Department and with Davis.”
Davis is currently one of three finalists competing to be Seattle, Washington’s new chief of police.
The four representatives from Seattle included the city’s Dir. of Employment Services Pam Inch, Counsel to the Mayor Carl Marquardt, Seattle Council member Tim Burgess and Kate Joncas, the president of the Downtown Seattle Association.
The community members from East Palo Alto included representatives from the Ravenswood City School District, OEPA, church leaders local business owners and the executive directors from various city nonprofit agencies. The meeting was held in the California Room of the Ravenswood Family Health Center where OEPA’s office is located.
East Palo Alto community members meet with members of
Seattle's police search committee. From left, Heather Starnes,
Kate Joncas, Pam Inch, William Webster, Tim Burgess and Carl
Those who could not attend the meeting sent personal letters of recommen- dation for Davis.
Of course, it might not be clear, to anyone looking at the issue objectively, why people who publicly professed their respect, appreciation and admiration for the city’s chief of police would give the representatives of another city, which might hire him, glowing recommendations about him, especially when they said how much they wanted him to stay in East Palo Alto.
To underscore this point Heather Starnes, the executive director of For Youth By Youth(FYBY), a nonprofit agency located in East Palo Alto, said the staff at FYBY gave her a list of 30 negative things to say to dissuade the representatives from hiring Davis.
But she said, to the assembled group’s laughter,” We’re all honest and we wouldn’t do that.”
At the end of the meeting, Marquardt said that he was moved by what he had heard from the group.
Earlier in the day, the four Seattle representatives were in Oakland gathering information about Davis’ 25 years on the police force in that city. They said they would hold interviews in Sacramento the following day to gather information about Sacramento’s Police Chief Rick Braziel who is also a candidate for the Seattle position.
The third candidate is Seattle’s Interim Police Chief John Diaz. Seattle’s Mayor Mike McGinnis is expected to make a decision shortly after he interviews all three candidates on June 3.
Given what was said to Seattle’s representatives at the Tuesday meeting and the purpose of the meeting, it is easy to understand how East Palo Alto community members could give glowing recommendations for their own Chief of Police Ron Davis with a heavy heart.