Thursday, October 31, 2019

A Letter to Hollister


My time as Chief of Police for the City of Hollister has come to a close. I have advised the City Manager my last day at Hollister Police Department in uniform will be around the week of December 30, 2019.

I began my career in 1990 in the State Center Peace Officers Academy in Fresno, CA. We were a bunch of young, naive kids from all over the Central Valley. We learned the law, we learned defensive tactics and we learned about the human condition as it related to criminal justice. Some of us never got jobs in law enforcement, many of us did. A few of us are still working in our chosen careers.

Early on I was sworn in at Los Banos Police Department. I worked there for about 10 years. It was a great department and a great community to work in. So many people were kind to me. So many friends gained from my experience in that community.

Los Banos PD gave me opportunities to train new police officers, supervise them as a sergeant, be a detective, community engagement/community policing, grant writing, gang/street crimes investigations and many other opportunities. I cannot thank Los Banos PD/City of Los Banos, its employees and the community as a whole for the opportunity to serve. Thank you Chief St Marie, Chief Hughes and Commander Knapp. Special shout out to my original recruiter, Sgt Nathan Bettencourt.

In 2000 I lateraled over to Redwood City Police Department. Again a great police department and community to work in. Many of my fellow employees at RCPD are still my friends today. This agency really taught me the true value of community policing, public service and really the concept of a full-service police department. Very proud of my time there and I always smile when I think about having 10-8c (breakfast) and Code 7(lunch/meal) with my shift mates. Those folks can eat.

In 2003 I lateraled to Hollister Police Department. I was hired by interim Chief Larry Todd. Chief Todd talked (in my job offer meeting) about how the next Chief (Chief Miller) would probably not ever promote me or give me a special assignment because I had not finished my degree yet. That stung a little if I am being honest. However, I used it as motivation and went back to college and got my degree. I was promoted to Patrol Sergeant a few years later. I was so blessed to have great patrol teams, we handled pretty much everything ourselves, rarely calling out detectives (which was a feat back then).

I was promoted to Captain by Chief Miller in 2009. I was assigned the budget and the administrative division. In 2011 Chief Miller informed us of his intent to retire in April of 2012. Then City Manager Clint Quilter named me Acting Chief of Police, a position I would share that year with my friend and colleague Captain Reynoso.

I was sworn in as Chief of Police for the City of Hollister, July 2, 2013. The very first person to congratulate me was Captain Reynoso.

We had our first rally in five years, two days later.

During my time as Chief we have been lucky to of hired many officers and employees. We have promoted many as well. We have had some great years. I have been blessed with an outstanding staff in all bureaus.

Citizen volunteers helped me start Hollister Gives Back in 2013. We wrote over 30,000 Christmas cards to our deployed and injured military members through Hollister Gives Back. Hollister Gives Back later became Hollister Police Foundation, a charitable organization.

Hollister Police Department was awarded with National and State of California Awards for Traffic Enforcement, Technology and was named National Police Department of the Year in 2014.

We have been successful in obtaining traffic, school resource officer and equipment grants during my tenure.

We have never been over budget.

Crime has steadily dropped almost 30%, although overall activity and calls for service have increased by almost 50%.

Our partnership with Hollister School District and San Benito High School have brought three more police officers to our region.

San Benito County PAL / Hollister Recreation Jr Giants has served over 2000 kids with free baseball during this time. 

We started working with the great organization SNIP last year through our animal shelter.

I was afforded the true honor to attend the FBI National Academy, session 271. Met now, many lifelong friends.

Many other projects, programs and engagements over the years.

I mention all these things because it has never been about the Chief, it's always been about our staff and our collective accomplishments in the City of Hollister, our community partners and all of you out there that support us.

I leave Hollister Police Department in the very capable hands of Captain Carlos Reynoso, Lt Eric Olson and Lt Dan Winn. Hollister PD has a tremendous staff of professionals. I have prayed for them daily and will continue too. Everyone contributes to the success of Hollister Police Department.

Thank you to the Hollister City Council for an almost always unanimous support for our projects, ideas, staff and simple asks. It helps to have engaged leaders. and I appreciate the hard work.

I have been really blessed to work with some of the best executives in the business in the City of Hollister. I have had great partnerships with the county and courts. 

I have benefited from excellent regional partnerships with law enforcement agencies in the region. Amazing relationships for with my fellow Chiefs in CalChiefs and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. 

I had great bosses in Clint Quilter and then later Bill Avera. Thank you Clint for believing in me. Thank you Bill for your unwavering support of me, our team and this city. 

I truly thank you all for your support, your encouragement and your friendship. I will have more words and more thanks in the coming days.

As always, be nice to each other, I’ll be seeking new adventures because (as Frank Herbert wrote) "A person needs new experiences. They jar something deep inside, allowing you to grow. Without them, it sleeps- seldom to awaken. The sleeper must awaken…."


Sunday, August 4, 2019

To Be or Not To Be

Every dream begins within the minds eye. Through our experiences, our triumphs, our tragedy and our daily lives. All of these things together construct that incorporeal soup in our brains Then it forms our thoughts.

My dream is simple. I want to see less death and violence in our region, state, country and world.

Our country use to be the example and leader in the world. In many positive ways, we as a nation, are leaders of the world. But unfortunately we also lead many of the negative things and are examples of that.

I’m not going to tiptoe around anything on this subject. Intolerance and hate are fueling these negative examples and tragedies in our country. Hate for our fellow man is the root of the cause, period

Some would argue mental health, economic imbalances, ideology and other related factors. I don’t dismiss any of that. But it’s hate and intolerance that is the causation.

Many would argue it’s about our gun laws and availability of firearms. It is accurate that firearms are the instrument in many these attack’s. We have also seen with some frequency cars, trucks, plans, fertilizer, fire, knives and chemicals used as well. All of which are for the most part totally unregulated items that have been used to kill.

This is not a pro gun or anti gun discussion, because we’ve seen the evidence that it doesn’t matter -(But Chief if there weren’t guns some of these people would be alive - yes I agree that we need to make some prudent, meaningful and well thought fixes to our system). I would offer that hateful, intolerant people always find a way to perform their mission.

My theory - it all starts at home.

If we raise with love - respectful, caring and responsible children that example has exponential possibilities for a positive future generations.

If we raise criminals that prey on their contemporaries, feed off of our society and don’t contribute we will have exponentially negative experiences for our future generations. A dim and dire future indeed.

It is that simple in my opinion.

As mentioned, I am not discussing the social and mental health issues because frankly, while it’s a big part of the discussion. It’s too broad of scope for this writing. I’ll tackle that later. To be sure, we don’t do enough for these folks and we need solid action to tackle these issues.

I am scared for our future, but I will continue to hope, continue to care and continue to work to protect the people we serve. Hopefully by our (law Enforcement in this country) example of truly caring for and loving our fellowman we can see the dawn of a new and better world.

One that is safe for all.

One that is tolerant.

One that is caring and nurturing.

One that we can be proud of.

One that we can give to our children,
for a better tomorrow.

In closing I quote Klingon Chancellor Gorkon from Star Trek V
“. If there is to be a brave new world, our generation is going to have the hardest time living in it.”

Be kind to each other,


Monday, July 22, 2019

The Social Media Effect

For many of us in public safety, the advent of social media has been a really great way to engage the communities we serve. It aids in government transparency, connects us with community and helps us message those things that folks should or need to know about their community like crime trends, wanted/missing persons and other related public safety info. Many of our agencies/municipalities have hired personnel specifically for increased social media engagement and info sharing. That is all positive and great stuff.

On the flip side, because of social media we have had to author social media policies for agencies and personnel. These policies, like the plethora of other regulations and guides we work with are written and adopted to protect our personnel and agency. Its not been easy. We have made mistakes. We have done some really dumb stuff in public safety/government if I am being honest, including me.

Today though I want to address a very specific thing I've seen for years on social media and would love to hear some input from either public safety personnel and the general public.

Police departments, sheriffs, marshals, troopers,,,,whatever color uniform, shape of badge of all types are on social media. I personally eclipsed the 10 year mark as a police officer on social media awhile back. When I first went on social media, I did not hide my occupation. I didn't really hide anything, still don't. I wanted folks to know who I was and I was there to listen and would always try to help. Being a new form of engagement and contact, it was clunky and clumsy starting out. But from day one, I was asked questions, mostly general law enforcement stuff, but sometimes really specific questions on a on-going public safety matter or active investigation.

I knew discussing active or on-going things was a mine field of danger. So I always answered with information that was releasable or was just benign information that would not affect a cases prosecution or out come. I found it a really nice vehicle with communicating my jurisdictions comings and goings. I learned how to share our press releases and even started using some other engagement tools for disseminating news worthy events / reported crimes.

Now you see, crime has been relatively unchanged. Its mercurial, sometimes higher in depressed economic times, but for the most part it ebbs and flows up with the passage of time. What I noticed after social media got up and running was this persistent thought from the public that crime was getting worse when it in fact was actually going down at the time. This new communication channel, social media, was sort of misrepresenting or at least there was the perception that crime was increasing because of the public access to press releases and other related information. Press releases use to be sent out to the news media exclusively, if the news thought it was interesting they would send a reporter out to interview our press officer and it would become a headline in print or maybe lead story at 6 PM. Now with social media, the public had the potential to receive these same press releases 24/7 and we were, as an industry unprepared to deal with the volume of information.

Public safety / government leaders we need to do an even better job of explaining and engaging the public. Has crime increased? Sure there are certainly times during the last 10+ years that crime has increased and also decreased. Providing context to the public is the key here. My suggestion to counteract "The Social Media Effect" is to include statistical or empirical evidence on any pertinent news release where it makes sense.

An example headline and copy "Homeless Campsite Caused Fire". You could add at the end if applicable ".....the last three years a homeless census was conducted locally. 351 individuals were identified, a decrease of 32 individuals total from the previous census in 2017. Reductions were credited to the new job training programs, relocation assistance and the new all-year shelter."

Its transparent, it sends the message that there is some mitigation efforts and gives the reader context for the issue that is being reported.

Help me battle the "The Social Media Effect" by keeping the public informed with factual data and information.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Have you paid your entry fees?

Rodeo participants (and their parents) know what I’m talking about when I reference entry fees. Other things have entry fees, road races, athletic competitions and other things of this nature. Today though, I am talking about life, success and the road before you, those kind of entry fees.

People these days seem to be in such a rush. Our society feeds on the next “thing”. Fads, movies, clothes, activities the latest name it, we are rushing to go get it. We talk about it, we post about it, we Snapchat, tweet. We cannot get to it or there fast enough.

But have you ever asked yourself if you deserve it? If you’ve earned it? If you have put in the time? If you have paid your dues?

It’s a subjective question that has to be answered by you and your heart. Our perspective on it is important. Earning it might take extra effort and work. It might take one more rep in the gym. One more mile on the trail. One more spreadsheet. One more solved case. One more shelf restocked. These are tangible and easily recognizable things that you can do.

What about your heart? Do you posses a servants heart? Most of us hope so, but your heart will guide, if you listen to it. Do you have the heart to commit to the tasks needed? Does your heart tell you when you’ve done enough and your entry fees are paid up?

My point is, at the end of the day are you doing enough in life to pay the entry fees?

Ask yourself:
  • “what have I done for my community this week.”
  • “who have I helped today”
  • “what kind of example am I to my family and friends”
  • “If I died today, what would be the first memory people had of me”

Have a great day and make sure your entry fees are paid.


Sunday, March 3, 2019

"We Need More Cops" and other things heard in the wind this week

A friend of mine, reminded me of a critical incident I was involved in years ago as a patrol sergeant. How I miss the days of working a beat and working with a team of intrepid patrol officers. Its like going into battle with your best friends, defending the citizens against the evil of the world. Its tragic, its tiring, its nerve wracking, its frightening but its with your team and there is strength in that.

The incident that day was horrific. It was chaotic, frightening and violent. But there was quietness in our souls that day. We stepped forward towards the threat. With a flurry of commands, taser deployments, holstering of sidearms and cuffs in hand, I realized we probably needed some more help. As I fought a knife welding suspect with one hand, I exclaimed on my portable radio simply "We need more cops". No I did not use any fancy codes or alerts....I just said it.

We laughed about it a few hours later when calmness entered our hearts and the adrenaline had long since worn off. One of the officers, prophetically said "because of this incident, we (the three of us) will always be closer". He was right, we were, we are.

This week I read the words of Nick Arvin a reporter for The Aggie, the school paper for the UC Davis. Arvin's article titled "UC Davis Professor Thinks Cops "Need to be Killed". It was polarizing as I read and then re-read his article. Davis Police Department had just lost Officer Natalie Corona in an ambush attack just weeks previous to this articles publish date.

I'll summarize, the professor tweeted and then later said:

“I am thankful that every living cop will one day be dead, some by their own hand, some by others, too many of old age #letsnotmakemore” — tweeted on Nov. 27, 2014.

“I mean, it’s easier to shoot cops when their backs are turned, no?” — tweeted on Dec. 27, 2014.

“People think that cops need to be reformed. They need to be killed.” — published in an interview on Jan. 31, 2016.

I wont argue if this is protected speech or not. Because it is protected speech.

It is in my opinion totally despicable.

But it is protected. Being a police officer is not subject to being part of a protected class. Police officers are the protectors, defenders and examples to the populous.

Police officers hunt the things that go bump in the night. They protect the flock against the wolves. They protect the weak from societies bullies, cheats and other lower forms of life.

Police officers make decisions in 6 seconds, that take lawyers who "practice law" 6 months to figure out and later ratify in court. Police officers are medics, counselors, cheer leaders, educators, disciplinarians, novelists, arbitrators, parents and sometimes mechanics.

My point, law enforcement officers in whatever form you see, troopers, deputies, police officers, motor cops, detectives and even Fish & Game officers are vital to the balance of our society and way of life. The have a unique job.

I posted the Aggie article on my social media feeds. Here is a few of the responses:

Twitter feed                   Facebook feed

One poster "How does this so called professor still have a job? This disgusts me, This is outrageous. Does UC Davis Condone this type of rhetoric? Have they acknowledged it, or made a statements"

UC Davis response is contained in this article - Sacramento Bee

Another posted response was "Unfreaken believable"

Another posted response was "Freedom of speech? Really? UC Davis - its never acceptable to encourage murder of ANY human being. The fact that it's a Professor"teaching" students is appalling! Parents of these students should rethink where their children attend school"

+ + +

Do we live in a perfect world? Are our public safety officers infallible? No and of course no. There are example of police officers failing. Like here for example - "Police officer charged with illegally making, selling guns" or this "Former police officer arrested on child sex charges". There are other examples of course of police officers acting like the rules do not apply to them. Unfortunate, but that same small percentage of wayward officers can of course be applied to a small percentage of the general public as a whole, but that is not a really great headline, so I get why crimes with the police officer involvement get the limelight. We should be the example of how to be great contributing citizens and these are examples of utter failure. 

+ + +

We have work to do still. We must press on and stick with our mission. We must constantly work to improve ourselves, be innovative. We must embrace transparency. We must admit when we make mistakes and learn from them. 

There will always be folks that do not agree with our mission and job function. That shouldn't deter us in anyway at all. They can have their opinions and of course say whatever words they want. The silent majority in this country gets it and supports our daily mission. 

That is all I have for now. Be good to each other.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Struggling for Words in 2019

This nation has had seven law enforcement officers killed in 2019. Reading this headline from Alabama this morning got me thinking as I sit here in disbelief.

I don’t know what to say anymore. I am struggling for the words.
Perhaps a thought on why some of us made the decision to work in law enforcement. I obviously cannot speak for everyone but I suspect my story is similar to many. 

I wanted to be a journalist. I actually wrote sports articles for a couple of local newspapers for a few years. I was fairly sure this was going to be my career path. Who knows perhaps I could of been the next Miguel Almaguer or Dan Green.

Something happened when I was kid in grade school. I saw one of my friends getting bullied on the playground with racist remarks, shoving and general harassment. I stepped in front of the bully as if it was my job and backed him off (with a right cross).  I don’t know why I did this, but I felt the need to protect him.

My Uncle Jim went to the police academy when I was 11. I remember smelling the leather from his “Batman” utility belt and seeing the super cool uniform on. He was a police officer with the City of Fowler, Paso Robles, San Clemente and retired from Orange County Sheriffs Office. 

When I was just an adolescent I worked in Fresno at a video store. My Dads cousin Ed would stop by my work occasionally. Ed was a Fresno County Sheriffs Office Deputy. He was a professional but he was also very approachable. Ed would sit and chat about his work with me. It sounded amazing. Ed survived multiple officer involved shootings and later retired from injuries sustained in a on-duty collision. 

I also went to college at this time, but my business major didn’t feel like a right fit. I felt Iike I was just plodding along and not really living. That was until I saw an advertisement for the CHP. I read the ad and was intrigued. I didn’t tell my family or friends. I just applied. To my complete surprise, I was successful throughout the process. 

At the end of the background process the local CHP recruiter had a meeting with me. He was talking about the CHP academy start dates and getting my affairs in order to prepare for that. I felt I needed to talk to my family. I called my parents and spoke to them. To say it was NOT my mothers first choice for her firstborn's chosen career would be a bit of an understatement. My parents have always been supportive of all of their kids, but this was a leap. She eventually came around btw. She suggested I call her brother, my Uncle Jim, a police officer and ask him for his thoughts. 

I called my uncle. He was apprehensive but supportive. He had been a police officer over 10 years and knew the dangers. I know how he felt. Its because when I am asked now i feel that same apprehension and need to explain and quantify my thoughts on the subject.

My uncle said "I always be honest and watch your partners back". My dads cousin Ed said the same thing essentially, but with more, shall we say colorful metaphors. Ed's sort of like that. 

Both my uncle and cousin Ed asked me why I was choosing law enforcement. I told them both the bully story. I told them I was intrigued with the idea of helping my community and the people living in it. I liked the fact that there was no routine to the job at all (there is in fact no such thing as a routine traffic stop folks). I said i wanted to do something that would actually make a difference (i theorized then and still do that an arrest can certainly be a positive change).

My uncle asked me why I hadn't considered the regular police academy. I did not have an answer. I had never considered it. He said "the CHP academy is great, but I do not know if you want a job chasing tail lights all the time." Again I had not even considered it. How would I know? 

So the solution for me was to go on some ride-alongs with police officers. I had been a several in the past however never with the thought of actually looking at it from the perspective as a career choice. I arranged several with the local police, sheriffs and CHP. 

I had a blast for the most part. When I rode with Fresno PD and Clovis PD, it was non-stop call to call all night long. It was exhausting yet exhilarating to see these professionals work and actually make positive change to peoples lives on that level. I remember coming home and not being able to sleep after. The ride with CHP was fun as well. Less activity, but the stuff we responded too was big, complex and a few were just horrific (1 fatal and 1 major injury collision). 

I re-evaluated and decided because I did not know what I wanted to do in this career (because I did not know enough about it yet). I probably should opt for the police academy. I remember meeting with Sgt Keller (RIP) at the Fresno Police Academy. Sgt Keller had previously trained Cousin Ed and Uncle Jim. 

Sgt Keller was a gruff, tough old cop. He had a heart of gold but he did not put up with any nonsense. He asked about my relatives and then literally said he wanted me to report to the academy Wednesday evening at 5 pm with a haircut and uniform on and excused me. He handed me a entrance application (stamped approved prior to my filling it out) and told me to get to work. 

Sgt Keller and later a TO named Ron Graham (Monterrey County SO retired) shaped us all at the State Center Police Officers Academy (Class 46). There are some cool stories from the academy that I wont get into now, but suffice to say I graduated and was hired out of the academy. 

The rest is history and a story for a different time. But the take away from this little story is my reasons for entering into this field. 

  • a job that truly helps people
  • different everyday
  • satisfaction in making positive changes in peoples lives
  • protecting those that can not do that for themselves

I suspect that my fellow brothers and sisters in law enforcement have similar stories that parallel my reasons for working in this field. 

This is not hyperbole, it has been a very fulfilling career. I start my 29th year in law enforcement in just a few weeks. I can say I have had a lot of fun. I have felt happy, fulfilled, scared and depressed sometimes all on the same shift. I am proud to continue to serve you all. 

They say that the assignment of patrol in law enforcement can be described as 11 1/2 hours of boredom followed by 1/2 hours of terror. On some day's, that is pretty accurate. 

Sometimes the media picks up on a story that has racial or ideological negative undertones in relation to a law enforcement action. I do not deny that that possibility exists. Police officers are human. Police officers are not infallible. 

I have not seen much or really any of this stuff in my career however.  I guess its probably always going to be about perspective, so I do not doubt folks when they say that when they see something, it upsets them and when I see the same thing, it seems completely fine. I do not look through their life lenses so I chose to listen to understand and not to judge their words.

My point today is to understand these law enforcement professionals and their motivations. We have had seven officers die in the line of duty in 2019 thus far. It is only January 13th, that is one every other day on average. Unfortunately this number will rise. 

I do not pretend to know the answers. I just know I am scared for our future both for our nations law enforcement officers but always our communities, cities and their people. 

I do not think you can arrest your way out of it (but it helps). I do not think you can legislate it. I think it all happens in our homes with our children. Parents we need to do a better job of setting the example we seek from our children as adults. 

Police Chiefs / Sheriffs / Majors / Commissioners / Supervisors we need to do a better job in communicating with those we serve. We need to show folks that we are exactly like them. We have the same fears, some hopes, our kids go to the same schools, we celebrate the same holidays and go to the same parades and events. We are the folks we serve, 100% of the time.

But that is just my opinion. 

Please say a prayer our maybe just a positive thought for the safety of our communities, its people and of course all of those that serve in the military and public safety. 

Be good to each other,


Thursday, December 20, 2018

Thoughts and lessons

I have been involved in public service more than half my life. Officially, 28 years on February 4th, 2019. Its been a journey. I have learned a lot.

I have learned many lessons of humility and patience. I have seen tragedy, violence, hate, fear, happiness, joy and sometimes something in between all that. 

You cannot be taught the lessons I have learned without experiencing them for yourself. Smelling the fear, feeling the exhaustion, the anguish and the sometimes the hope. 

I do not know what kind of leader I am. But I do hope I am one that folks can learn something from by way of example, by style or just by the way I interact and communicate. I always sort of default on the concept of love when talking about my job. I know I spoke about it in my TEDx Salinas Talk exclusively. But I do feel its absolutely true. You cannot spend a life in public service and be successful without in at least a part by loving your fellow man/woman/humans.

People often ask me why I encourage criticism. Why I thank people for criticizing me or my decisions. My answer, I thank everyone because it matters to me. 

Yes, what people think and say matters to me. It does not bother me when folks do not think like I do and are critical of decisions I make or things I say. The fact that they are saying something and have the ability to do that without the fear of judgement or retribution by the subject (me) they are referring too means everything to me and is what I signed up for when I took that oath (well I have taken many oaths).

I have literally been called every single derogatory name in the book, many multiple times. I have never gotten mad at that. I wont ever. I just wont do negative, because I love people and I choose to live with a smile.

I know that some folks do not think like that. That is ok. I do not have that expectation of others. We choose how to live our lives, we do not choose how others live. 

Thank you,