Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 13, 2011

New police chief is truly a 'cop's cop'

It's been more than half a century since a local marshal armed with a shotgun and several volunteer deputies patrolled the streets of Pleasanton. That ended in the mid-1950s when Walter McCloud was hired as the city's first police chief. He served until 1981 when he retired and was succeeded by Bill Eastman. Eastman, who after retiring ran unsuccessfully for mayor, is best remembered for vowing that "if you never give up the streets (to criminals), you'll never have to take them back." He earned a hard-on-crime reputation that made Pleasanton known among trouble-makers as a city they should never "mess with."

Tim Neal, who succeeded Eastman when he retired in 1999, kept Eastman's tough-on-crime policies but also opened up the Police Department to the general public. Police academies were formed for adults and youths, volunteer officers were trained for crowd control at downtown events; Neal even became a well-known Pleasanton spokesman at public events, on local television, at Rotary and other social organization meetings and in schools. He held two open houses at the police station with public tours and traffic safety demonstrations that attracted hundreds of visitors. Mike Fraser, a career Pleasanton police officer who succeeded Neal in 2007, was a less public figure but a strong leader within the department. He also served at a time of financial belt-tightening as the recession affected all city services. Unfortunately, health problems caused Fraser to retire last November after only four years in the post.

Last Monday, Police Capt. Dave Spiller became Pleasanton's fifth police chief. Well-known in the community and regarded by the 87 sworn officers and others in the department as a "cop's cop," his swearing-in ceremony brought loud applause from nearly 200 who packed the City Council chamber, including many off-duty police officers and firefighters who donned their uniforms to come to the Civic Center event. At age 43, it's likely that Spiller will be our chief for years to come. Besides impressive credentials that include undergraduate and advanced degrees in science, the arts and police management, Spiller has worked both sides of the table in his profession. He was a patrol officer with the San Diego Police Department, a motorcycle cop in Mountain View's department, and has worked in patrol and investigations here in Pleasanton. He was president of the police union for a year in Mountain View. Combined with his leadership role as a captain in Pleasanton, management training at Harvard and union negotiating skills gained in Mountain View, Spiller will be a valuable asset in the coming months as negotiations on a new police contract get under way.

Spiller also will have the support of Capt. Eric Finn, another career Pleasanton officer who was a runner-up for the chief's post. Like Spiller, Finn is in his early 40s, is well-known in community circles, and has equally impressive credentials. As a long-time DARE officer, he also has the uncanny ability to remember hundreds of fourth- and fifth-graders who went through the program years ago, calling them by their first names when he sees them on the streets of Pleasanton. Where some cities spend thousands of dollars to search the country for candidates for their police chiefs, Pleasanton had two top-notch officers to choose from in its own ranks. What's more, Spiller and Finn, who shared the responsibilities for running the department for the last six months since Fraser retired, have a good working relationship that bodes well for Pleasanton and its Police Department in the coming years.

Editor's note:

Correction: The editorial on May 6 should have said that TBWB Strategies a consulting group was paid $85,102 by the Pleasanton school district to develop strategy for winning the Measure E parcel tax election. The school district incurred additional costs of $200,000 to $250,000 to hold the mail-by-ballot election.

Comments

Posted by ONE!two!ThrEE!!, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 29, 2011 at 9:19 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as innuendo, hearsay or specific accusatory information unsupported by facts.)


Posted by once more, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

OK police chief. How about leading by example. Take a 15% pay cut. I pay your salary. What about that pension? Pensions are killing the economy. Stop picking my pocket!! You're supposed to be stopping crime!!


Posted by Blossom, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Jun 30, 2011 at 6:37 am

The high salary is a real cause for concern. Why are we paying cops such high salaries? All they are is a uniform with a gun and badge. Wouldn't we be better off with volunteer militia groups that might vigilantly patrol our streets and keep them clean and crime free? I saw an entitlement woman outside the post office the other day asking for a hand out for her kids. I mean, c'mon! Get off it already! Cops are probably too busy, but a vigilant volunteer militia could chase her and her kind back where they belong.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jul 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm

please please please...try to understand their job, show some respect or moveon.com.

if you think that you're safe without police officers, talk to the crooks...i rest my case...


Posted by Joe, a resident of Siena
on Jul 4, 2011 at 8:27 am

Unfortunately, I have experience over the years with police chiefs who are called a "cop's cop". Those types of chiefs usually turn out to be the worst. You *think* they are a cop's cop, but then comes reality. They have rubber chicken dinners to attend, community events, budgets, behind-the-scenes City Council BS going on, and so on. That reputation of being a "cop's cop" disappears very quickly. Let's see if he is still called a cop's cop at this time next year. If history is correct, he will receive a vote of no confidence within three years. I know it doesn't seem like that now since it's still the honeymoon phase, but mark my words. Been there/done that.


Posted by Jenny, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2011 at 8:31 am

So, instead of addressing the man's accomplishments you instead stereotype and smear? Nice touch, but comes across a little bit creepy if you ask me.


Posted by GJM, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 23, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Let's get the facts right before we write! John Delucci was the town Marshal prior to McCloud becoming Chief. Half way through Delucci's term his title was changed to Chief. Thus, John Delucci was the first Chief of Police and Walter McCloud was the second. McCloud was the first Chief in Pleasanton to adopt the use of; Radar, Canine units, Motor units, and pepper spray.


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