2007 Year in Review–10 Biggest Vanguard Stories of 2007

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As the first full year of the People’s Vanguard of Davis comes to completion, we will countdown the top 10 stories from year. This is the second year we have done this.

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 article laid out some of the reasons for the firing on Concolino and the controversy it spawned.

“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.”

The swearing in came in early April:

“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

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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12 thoughts on “2007 Year in Review–10 Biggest Vanguard Stories of 2007”

  1. SAH

    Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before. Meanwhile several police officers went beyond the call of duty in trying to save a person with a knife (the person who rammed his car into an oak tree), who unfortunately managed to kill himself anyway. Also a new DPD spokesperson has significantly improved the flow of information concerning police activities. All in all a good year for the DPD!

  2. SAH

    Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before. Meanwhile several police officers went beyond the call of duty in trying to save a person with a knife (the person who rammed his car into an oak tree), who unfortunately managed to kill himself anyway. Also a new DPD spokesperson has significantly improved the flow of information concerning police activities. All in all a good year for the DPD!

  3. SAH

    Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before. Meanwhile several police officers went beyond the call of duty in trying to save a person with a knife (the person who rammed his car into an oak tree), who unfortunately managed to kill himself anyway. Also a new DPD spokesperson has significantly improved the flow of information concerning police activities. All in all a good year for the DPD!

  4. SAH

    Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before. Meanwhile several police officers went beyond the call of duty in trying to save a person with a knife (the person who rammed his car into an oak tree), who unfortunately managed to kill himself anyway. Also a new DPD spokesperson has significantly improved the flow of information concerning police activities. All in all a good year for the DPD!

  5. Rich Rifkin

    “Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before.”

    Unlike Sah and David, I am not one who believes the department on the whole has ever “acted in an uncontrolled manner” or with racial or ethnic bias. (I don’t discount the possibility that within the department, however, there have been some bad eggs.)

    I think it is still too early — from the outside — to make any judgment on Chief Black’s job performance. (I would imagine insiders already have a good sense of his capacity as a manager, leader and motivator.) Often it is after things go wrong — when, for example, a subordinate makes a bad decision or even acts maliciously — that the leader of the organization can be fully judged. How Chief Black deals with a crisis or a bad egg will reveal how good or bad he is at his job.

  6. Rich Rifkin

    “Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before.”

    Unlike Sah and David, I am not one who believes the department on the whole has ever “acted in an uncontrolled manner” or with racial or ethnic bias. (I don’t discount the possibility that within the department, however, there have been some bad eggs.)

    I think it is still too early — from the outside — to make any judgment on Chief Black’s job performance. (I would imagine insiders already have a good sense of his capacity as a manager, leader and motivator.) Often it is after things go wrong — when, for example, a subordinate makes a bad decision or even acts maliciously — that the leader of the organization can be fully judged. How Chief Black deals with a crisis or a bad egg will reveal how good or bad he is at his job.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    “Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before.”

    Unlike Sah and David, I am not one who believes the department on the whole has ever “acted in an uncontrolled manner” or with racial or ethnic bias. (I don’t discount the possibility that within the department, however, there have been some bad eggs.)

    I think it is still too early — from the outside — to make any judgment on Chief Black’s job performance. (I would imagine insiders already have a good sense of his capacity as a manager, leader and motivator.) Often it is after things go wrong — when, for example, a subordinate makes a bad decision or even acts maliciously — that the leader of the organization can be fully judged. How Chief Black deals with a crisis or a bad egg will reveal how good or bad he is at his job.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    “Mr. Black deserves credit – the DPD seems to be acting in a much more controlled manner than before.”

    Unlike Sah and David, I am not one who believes the department on the whole has ever “acted in an uncontrolled manner” or with racial or ethnic bias. (I don’t discount the possibility that within the department, however, there have been some bad eggs.)

    I think it is still too early — from the outside — to make any judgment on Chief Black’s job performance. (I would imagine insiders already have a good sense of his capacity as a manager, leader and motivator.) Often it is after things go wrong — when, for example, a subordinate makes a bad decision or even acts maliciously — that the leader of the organization can be fully judged. How Chief Black deals with a crisis or a bad egg will reveal how good or bad he is at his job.

  9. campaign watcher

    I agree with you somewhat, Rich.

    The few times I’ve spoken with Chief Black directly have been satisfactory. He is a nice guy socially and, when questioned about police department issues, he switches into a more formal “Chief” mode easily. He seems to take every concern seriously, no matter how minor and responds in a very professional manner. I believe that this attitude is valuable in creating respect for and confidence in the community for his position as Chief of Police.

    However, we can’t overlook his reorganization of the department. It seems to be working well – viewing from outside the department. The DPD are a very close-knit group and as a citizen it is hard to gauge the overall morale of the department, but I am guessing that it has improved.

  10. campaign watcher

    I agree with you somewhat, Rich.

    The few times I’ve spoken with Chief Black directly have been satisfactory. He is a nice guy socially and, when questioned about police department issues, he switches into a more formal “Chief” mode easily. He seems to take every concern seriously, no matter how minor and responds in a very professional manner. I believe that this attitude is valuable in creating respect for and confidence in the community for his position as Chief of Police.

    However, we can’t overlook his reorganization of the department. It seems to be working well – viewing from outside the department. The DPD are a very close-knit group and as a citizen it is hard to gauge the overall morale of the department, but I am guessing that it has improved.

  11. campaign watcher

    I agree with you somewhat, Rich.

    The few times I’ve spoken with Chief Black directly have been satisfactory. He is a nice guy socially and, when questioned about police department issues, he switches into a more formal “Chief” mode easily. He seems to take every concern seriously, no matter how minor and responds in a very professional manner. I believe that this attitude is valuable in creating respect for and confidence in the community for his position as Chief of Police.

    However, we can’t overlook his reorganization of the department. It seems to be working well – viewing from outside the department. The DPD are a very close-knit group and as a citizen it is hard to gauge the overall morale of the department, but I am guessing that it has improved.

  12. campaign watcher

    I agree with you somewhat, Rich.

    The few times I’ve spoken with Chief Black directly have been satisfactory. He is a nice guy socially and, when questioned about police department issues, he switches into a more formal “Chief” mode easily. He seems to take every concern seriously, no matter how minor and responds in a very professional manner. I believe that this attitude is valuable in creating respect for and confidence in the community for his position as Chief of Police.

    However, we can’t overlook his reorganization of the department. It seems to be working well – viewing from outside the department. The DPD are a very close-knit group and as a citizen it is hard to gauge the overall morale of the department, but I am guessing that it has improved.

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