The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Santa Clarans Gather to Chat with the Chief

A VTA bus-involved car crash down the street from the Police Station colored the beginning discussion for the 20th Chat with the Chief.

The meeting had an attendance of about 10 residents who all had questions for the Santa Clara Police Chief Mike Sellers. The main discussions for the night started with a question regarding RVs parking in residential neighborhoods.

Chief Sellers informed the group that in California people are allowed to sleep in parked cars, but in Santa Clara they must move their vehicles in 72 hours. The clock starts once SCPD is called and chalk the vehicle’s tires. After the 72 hours is up, the officers return and have a contractor tow the vehicle.


In theory, the vehicle should leave the neighborhood, but Chief Sellers said these people have their tricks: they simply wipe off the chalk or move their vehicle 10 feet to avoid the rule.

Chief Sellers informed the group that the department recently hired some new community service officers and police officers and are also in the process of hiring more officers.

“We’re doing very well on the hiring,” said Sellers.

The hiring process can be time consuming and expensive, according to Sellers, so it’s a big feat.

The infamous Harmon v. City of Santa Clara settlement was also a hot topic. The $6.7 million settlement rocked the City and the residents had questions for the Chief.

He said he couldn’t give too much detail, but stood by his previous statements, saying that his officers were lawful and acting in good faith.

“There’s no question, the girl’s mother [Danielle Harmon Burfine] broke her ankle,” said Sellers but referred to the unedited leaked body cam footage for a clearer picture on what happened during the incident.

He said if it wasn’t for the judge’s court order not to release the body cam footage, he would have done it himself. Ironically, that court order was broken by Harmon Burfine and her lawyer. Read our coverage here:

With traffic always being the Chief’s #1 topic, there was plenty of discussion of high density housing and its effects, parking problems and general traffic control.

The Chief conceded that high density housing does increase traffic, but also reduces calls for service. He also said that City Council is looking at placing high density housing near transportation hubs to mitigate traffic.

Marijuana legalization was the last big topic of the night. Residents had questions on dispensaries, effects on traffic and crime, and revenue.

Chief Sellers referred to the recent discussions the Council had about how the City would go about legalization. Read our coverage here:

With the holidays coming up, the Chief also wanted to remind the group about package theft and to be cautious.

The Chat with the Chief closed out with a treat: a tour of the City’s Communication Dispatch Center by Public Safety Dispatch Lead Leslie Loretto.

The Chief has held these casual community gathering since his election in 2012. The next Chat with the Chief will be in 2018.


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