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Letter of the Day: Picking a chief

  • Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm is retiring in December. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat, 2009)

Picking a chief

EDITOR: In the wake of the killing of Andy Lopez by Deputy Erick Gelhaus, it's understandable that all eyes are fixed in shock on the Sheriff's Office. But right now, out of sight and behind closed doors, a new Santa Rosa police chief is being selected in a process so secret not even our elected City Council members are involved.

The Santa Rosa Police Department has its own recent history rife with abuses against the community; killing civilians, a slew of costly lawsuits, unwillingness to integrate its ranks, and more. All these problems stem from the top brass down, and none is more responsible than the chief.

The current chief is set to resign and be replaced on Dec. 20. The ongoing secret selection process of the new chief must be stopped now. A new process must be put in place in which the council and a representative citizen's committee with veto power have control of the recruitment, interviewing and hiring.

It's time for our communities to control their police. Selecting the new chief is a powerful place to start.

TAYLOR ANDERSON-STEVENSON

Women's Justice Center

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