Ever since officers of the Santa Clara Police Department have begun wearing body cameras on duty to record interactions with people, the department has received fewer complaints. Such information and more were shared at the city’s most recent Chat with the Chief, held at Northside Library on Oct. 3. Assistant Chief of Police Dan Winter moderated most of the conversation. Chief of Police Mike Sellers, running for re-election this November, had to attend a candidate forum but he still managed to stop by the library during the evening.
“We have the only elected Police Chief in the entire State of California,” Winter explains. “These Chats with the Chief were started back in 2013, and we estimate this is the 15th one. The Chief has [moderated] every one but this one…It was basically created for transparency, for bringing in community discussions so we could hear from folks before there’s a crisis.”
Melanie Fisher expressed her dismay at the fast “desensitized” drivers who speed through Lick Mill Blvd. Pointing out the continuous flashing lights in front of Lick Mill Park, she asked if the city could install a button at the crosswalk in front of the park so the lights would only flash when there is actually a pedestrian present. Winter responded that this concern could be brought to the city’s Traffic Engineering Department.
Paula Orrego, who lives close to Levi Stadium, was concerned about rumors stemming from a letter that the Santa Clara Police Officers Association (SCPOA) sent to San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York back in early September. The letter suggested that officers from the SCPOA might not work at Levi Stadium events in response to San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick’s negative comments about police officers.
“We are going to protect the stadium,” Winter says. “We have to protect that stadium, especially if 60,000 fans are going to show up there. There’s a recent Washington Post article talking about how sporting venues are a potential terrorist target. Where [large numbers of people] gather, we have to secure it. The union that sent out that initial letter- they urged their members to continue to work. There was no boycott and [officers] have been working.”
Sellers advocated for events, such as National Night Out, which would allow residents to get to know their neighbors. He also encouraged residents to call the police if they observe any suspicious activity.
“My officers do a fabulous job out there patrolling and doing great investigation and evidence work… It’s really a team effort,” Sellers says. “[We want to just educate] the public on how to hopefully reduce crime, especially car break ins. When you leave belongings behind, even if it’s a cell phone or a gym bag that can be empty, just the fact that it’s sitting in the backseat, it looks like there can be valuables in there, and [people can quickly become victims].”
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