Last year we counted down the 10 Biggest Stories in Davis.
This year we countdown the 10 biggest stories that we followed on the People’s Vanguard of Davis.
We continue with the 5th biggest story: Landy Black hired as new Davis Police Chief.
Given all of the controversy surrounding the Police Department and the exit of former Chief Jim Hyde, this is almost a story because it is not a story. The resignation of Police Chief Jim Hyde was the second biggest story in 2006.
However, the hiring of the new police chief was not without at least some early controversy.
City Manager Bill Emlen decided that the best way to conduct these interviews was to keep all of the names confidential.
So on January 9, the City Manager announced that there were seven final candidates for the position of Police Chief.
“Last night the Davis Enterprise reported that the city has seven final candidates for the position of Police Chief and that one of those candidates is not interim Chief Steve Pierce.
City Manager Bill Emlen was quoted as saying:
“We’d like to find somebody who’s going to be around for a while, is able to set the department forward with clear vision and will be able to implement that vision.”
City Manager Bill Emlen not only has not disclosed the list of finalists to the press, but he has not disclosed it to the city council. While this is a personnel matter, it would not be inappropriate to divulge the names of candidates particularly to the members of the council. Several sources have informed us that this is a highly unusual move by the City Manager. While some personnel matters are confidential, the names of those on a short list are not–particularly to the City Council who is ostensibly his boss.”
However, just because the intent was to keep the names confidential, doesn’t mean that names do not leak out–particularly controversial ones.
As we reported on January 10, 2007:
“The People’s Vanguard of Davis has learned from multiple well-placed sources that one of these seven finalists is former Davis Police Captain Nick Concolino who was dismissed from the Davis Police Department in June of 2000 by then Police Chief Jerry Gonzales and then City Manager John Meyer.”
“The nature of personnel matters is shrouded in confidentiality agreements that prevent the release of reasons for a dismissal. As such, the public and even the City Council at the time were never informed of the reasons. We spoke with the Mayor of Davis during the time of the dismissal, Ken Wagstaff. He expressed his frustration stating, “this was the most frustrating thing about being on the council.”
Any hire of Nick Concolino would re-open old wounds. This action resulted in a huge and ugly controversy as the Davis Police Officer’s Association (DPOA) and many citizens campaigned against the dismissal of Concolino and then began an orchestrated campaign against Chief Gonzales. In response many citizens and civil rights activists came to the defense of Chief Gonzales.”
The fact that Mr. Concolino was even under consideration sparked a lot of attention, criticism, and outrage.
Two weeks later, when the field was trimmed to three, Mr. Concolino was not among them.
“The Davis Enterprise reported on Thursday that City Manager Bill Emlen has announced that there are three finalists for the Police Chief position vacated in June by the departure of Jim Hyde for the same position with the Antioch Police Department.
According to several sources, Nick Concolino, who we ran an article on a few weeks ago, is not among the top three candidates. According to Emlen, one of the candidates is a woman, two of them are from out of state, and two of them work currently for law enforcement organizations, but one does not but has experience working as management in police organizations.”
By early February it was clear that there was one candidate–Seattle Police Captain Landy Black.
The Police Captain sat down on the phone with me for a 30 minute phone interview. And laid out his position on a number of controversial issues including expressed support for civilian police oversight, which he had worked under while in Seattle.
On February 20, 2007, Landy Black was named the new Police Chief.
“City Manager Bill Emlen at last night’s Davis City Council Meeting announced that Seattle Police Captain Landy Black has accepted a job offer for the position of Police Chief. Captain Black’s tenure will officially begin on April 9, 2007. Interim Police Chief Steve Pierce will once again return to his previous position of Assistant Police Chief. Captain Black’s starting salary will be $130,421.50 which is the highest salary in the city’s salary schedule.”
“Amid much excitement, anticipation, mixed in perhaps with some relief, Davis City Manager Bill Emlen swore in Landy Black as Davis’ new police chief.
The newly sworn-in Chief Black was joined by a number of colleagues, friends, and his very proud wife and parents yesterday before a full contingent of Davis Police Officers, elected office holders, and other community leaders.”
For the most part since that point, Chief Landy Black has been a non-story.
He earned rare praise from the Vanguard for his handling on the May Day Student Protests.
In an article entitled, “Davis Police Compare Favorably in their Actions on Tuesday Compared with the Problems in Los Angeles,” I wrote:
“As I watched the protest on Tuesday as it moved from campus, through the middle of Russell Boulevard and eventually to the intersection of Russell and Anderson, I remarked to several people the professionalism by which the Davis Police Department handled the march. They not only blocked off the streets in advance of the march, but they allowed for the impromptu, never engaging or escalating even when things may have gone slightly off-track.
As the march ended up with several hundred protesters marching in the middle of one of the most heavily trafficked intersections in the city, the police seemingly effortlessly diverted traffic. I understand that this diversion inconvenienced travelers and students who were attempting to get to class, but in terms of their prime duty–safety and peace, the police did their job on that afternoon and they did it well.”
Most impressive to me was a conversation that I had with Chief Black on site:
“I spoke first to Lt. Dorothy Pearson and then to the new Chief himself, Landy Black. In both cases, they downplayed the significance of their actions. Telling me that this was their job. Chief Black spoke about the importance of the right to protest as being a centerpiece of a Democratic society and I could not agree more. However, as we have seen throughout history, the actions of the Davis Police Department on this day should not be dismissed as lightly as the leadership did.”
There will likely be trying times in the future for the new police chief, in many ways that is the nature of the job. However, the first seven months or so on the job have afforded the chief was an opportunity to put down roots and make contacts in the community before the next trying incident.
For all of this non-controversy, especially after last year, the hiring of Police Chief Landy Black is the fifth biggest story in 2006.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting