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Getting to Know the Santa Clara Police Chief Candidates

Mike Sellers wants to be your police chief.

Sellers has worked in law enforcement for 31 years, including having served as Santa Clara’s police chief since late 2012. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from California State University in Long Beach, Calif. Sellers also completed the FBI National Academy, a 10-week program for those with “demonstrated leadership qualities” with courses in, among other topics, intelligence theory, terrorist mindset and forensic science.

Part of the reason for his success as police chief is his efforts to amp up “community engagement.” He said officers have been very responsive to nuanced concerns, putting in place programs like “Chat with the Chief” and DARE as well as more Neighborhood Watch programs and social media presence.

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Programs like these, along with officers using body-worn cameras are results of his leadership, Sellers said. “As needs change in the community, we also need to change with that.” Even though the community didn’t ask for [body-worn cameras], “I thought it was needed for the safety of our citizens and our officers.”

Sellers said his experience and the programs he has put in place since his election have helped make Santa Clara the eleventh safest city, based on population, in the country, according to municipal data collection and analysis company Niche. He said he would like to “continue on the same path.”

The watchwords of the department Sellers aims for are “open, honest, and transparent,” Sellers said.

However, a few situations concern Sellers — things he said he has worked hard, and will continue to work hard, to deal with.

For instance, Santa Clara’s population boom has brought changes that need close monitoring, he said. The construction of Levi’s Stadium puts a national spotlight on Santa Clara, and could make it vulnerable to terrorist attacks, something of which Sellers said he is ever mindful, ensuring that the number of officers at events meets the need. With the stadium comes “an increased responsibility.”

The police department needs to increase its staffing levels to deal with Santa Clara’s swelling population, which he said is why he commissioned an independent study late last year to gauge the department’s need for additional employees.

Another concern is the increase in property crimes. Sellers attributed this spike to Prop 47 reducing many felony property crimes to misdemeanors and AB 109 — a state realignment that released many prisoners from custody. However, he said his officers have been “aggressively targeting” and have managed to curb that trend.

He said through partnerships, police are able to establish “the best way to go after crime.” With the ubiquity of social media, Sellers said he wants to create a “see something, say something” public attitude to crime and “build up trust” with the public.

“The community recognizes that they play an important role in our success at keeping them safe,” he said.

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