Patrick Nikolai wants to be your police chief.
Nikolai has worked for the Santa Clara Police Department for 25 years. Currently a sergeant, he has served as the president of Santa Clara Police Officers Association for 14 years. He has also worked as a unit supervisor for DARE and as a field training supervisor.
Nikolai criticizes how his opponent Police Chief Mike Sellers has run the department. Sellers is “not putting resources” into aggressively recruiting officers to ensure the department is adequately staffed. The department should be seeking out military personnel and providing incentives for officers to “lateral,” i.e., move from one law enforcement agency to another, he said.
“It is hard to hire officers in a competitive market,” Nikolai said. “You have to reach out to a lot of people.”
Santa Clara needs to do a better job keeping up with other departments, he said, adding that Santa Clara is “behind the curve,” and that holding job fairs would help recruit highly skilled professionals.
Although Sellers has claimed Santa Clara is the eleventh safest city in the country, Nikolai said Santa Clara needs to stop “hanging its hat on false statistics.”
Funding for programs needs to increase, too, Nikolai said. Tactics such as bait packages and bait bikes let people know police are “actively looking for the bad guys” which causes the “bad guys to avoid” police.
Property crimes are on the rise, he said, and the police department needs to remain vigilant. “We need to make sure our department stays proactive instead of reactionary,” he said. “I don’t want us to become complacent. When you are reactionary, you are only responding to calls,” he later added.
As part of his “proactive” culture shift, Nikolai said the police department needs to dedicate a full-time officer to Santa Clara University and deal with other nuisance issues such as parking and noise violations, vandalism, and public urination, calling such violations “quality of life issues.”
Part of his initiative if elected will include establishing a policy for how to deal with high-risk events at Levi’s Stadium.
Nikolai has been vocal about his disdain for how Sellers has handled security at Levi’s Stadium, saying that he “believes general fund money was used” to fund police presence at the stadium. He promised to ensure “fiscal transparency” if he becomes police chief.
Even if the department has not used general fund money at the stadium, Nikolai said the obfuscation surrounding the issue shows Sellers’ “lack of leadership,” adding that “taxpayers need know where their money is going.”
However, he is not interested in micromanaging his officers, saying that unit commanders need to have the flexibility to make decisions instead of using a “top-down” approach. A chief needs to let his officers “do their jobs,” adding that he wants his “supervisors to hold their officers accountable” he said.
Nikolai vowed to be responsive to and direct with public concerns.
“I will listen to people. I will listen to their concerns, and I will work to resolve them, and if I can’t resolve them, I will let them know why I can’t resolve them,” he said.