This gave me a chance to ask Chief Holder some questions that came up recently in some blogs on the Express. Several posters claimed Chief Holder endorsed Carol Rowley for Mayor. I asked if a Police Chief can endorse a candidate for City Council and is he endorsing Carol Rowley? The Chief said he is allowed to endorse candidates, but he chooses not to. "I've never endorsed anyone," he said.
I told the Chief the some bloggers accused him of not investigating the theft Bill Clarkson's campaign signs. Holder smiled and said, "They're wrong." He described going out on a lead and looking into dumpsters, but not finding anything.
He said, and this has been reported elsewhere, that some homeowners removed the signs because they didn't request them. When this was mentioned in another blog, some responders objected to the implication that Clarkson was papering the City with unwelcome signs, but it is possible that signs were placed at the wrong addresses by mistake. There doesn't have to be a conspiracy about everything.
My tour-mate, Loretta Holt, isn't into conspiracy theories. She loves living in San Ramon. Everything about San Ramon is wonderful and she's happy she found it. She moved here in 2004 after visiting her daughter in Dublin and getting lost in Dougherty Valley. I get lost in Dougherty Valley too. Loretta was walking around with a confused look on her face (she demonstrated it for me), when a tall, dark man came over and introduced himself as Mayor of San Ramon and offered to help.
Loretta was shocked. The Mayor is a black man. Loretta, who is black, didn't expect the Mayor of San Ramon to be black or to be so accessible and helpful. She's been hooked on San Ramon ever since. "I feel so connected to my town," she said about her home for the past seven years. She was thrilled at meeting the Police Chief too.
The tour started out in the Training Room, which is a spacious classroom with large video screens. Kelly O'Friel and Mary Gentry explained that classroom training is done in this room and defensive training is held downstairs. O'Friel told me, "We are very big on training. The state of California requires four hours of firearm training every two years. We require it every two months."
The physical training is held downstairs. The photo with this story shows seven-year old William Fritz learning how to handcuff a dangerous dummy, while Officer Hollis Tong instructs.
Chief Holder took us all over the building. It is much larger inside than it appears to be from the outside. The Chief showed us two interrogation rooms with cameras and mikes in each; so suspects brought in together can be interviewed separately.
The holding room, where suspects are brought into the building, also has cameras and mikes. Two suspects were overheard discussing the story they planned to tell the police. Benches in the holding room have metal bars attached to which suspects can be handcuffed if necessary.
There's a large break room with plenty of coffee for cops working long hours and two quiet rooms where they can catch a few hours of needed sleep.
For all the room in the new building, there's still more room left to grow. I asked the Chief if the City Hall and offices could be moved here. He said that would be great but they can't because the building was purchased with Redevelopment Agency funds.
I asked if the police would move to the new City Center once the City Hall building is ready. He said they would. I said won't it be much smaller. He said there's a second floor planned where they could go. What about moving a branch there and keeping the headquarters here. He thought that would be a good idea. It would be a shame to lose all of the improvements in this building.
On the way out I bumped into Parks Commissioner Dominique Yancy and Councilwoman and candidate for Mayor, Carol Rowley. Both of them thought the Police Department should stay in the building too.
I asked (you knew I would) if the empty space could be used for Animal Control. To my surprise Holder said it's possible. So who knows, we could form a partnership with Contra Costa County Animal Control to share the facility. Wouldn't that be great!