Long-Time Police Officer Named New Chief

Darren Pytel addresses a public meeting on Wednesday

As the Vanguard reported just over a week ago, there was not much surprise in who would become the next Police Chief. Davis City Manager Dirk Brazil is pleased to announce the appointment of Darren Pytel as police chief, effective January 1, 2016.

Mr. Pytel has over 32 years of public safety experience in Davis, first joining the Davis Police Department in 1983 as a police cadet.  He was subsequently promoted to bike enforcement officer, police officer, sergeant/watch commander, lieutenant and captain, and has served as the assistant police chief of the department since 2013.

Mr. Pytel’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice from CSU, Sacramento, and a Juris Doctor-Cum Laude from Lincoln Law School.

“Darren Pytel, with his knowledge of Davis and his experience in the field, rose to the top of the applicant pool. He understands the challenges of police work in Davis and has a strong operational and management background.  Appointing Assistant Chief Pytel to Police Chief will provide the department with continuity, aid in a smooth transition and continue to develop what is already a very professional department,” stated City Manager Dirk Brazil, who announced the hire while vacationing.

Darren Pytel is replacing current Police Chief Landy Black, who announced his retirement on October 6 and will formally retire on December 31, 2015.

Chief Black has served as the Davis police chief for nearly nine years.  “Landy has been instrumental in preserving public safety in Davis and fostering community confidence in the services the department provides.  His talent and expertise will be missed,” said Brazil.

Chief Black leaves a department very different from the one he arrived at in the spring of 2007. That department was reeling both internally and externally from the controversies with the previous chief, who had divided the internal department just as much as he had divided the community. Chief Black’s legacy was restoring the professionalism and community trust to the department.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve the community in this new capacity,” said Darren Pytel in a press release.  “This is an exciting time to work collaboratively with the City Council, our highly skilled public safety staff, and an engaged community on a broad range of initiatives that will further improve public safety in Davis.”

Darren Pytel has been heavily engaged with public outreach. On Monday, he participated in a public session describing the new Alternative Conflict Resolution Process for citizen complaints. Darren Pytel, starting in October 2013, worked with four members of his department and five community members to find a new way to resolve certain types of citizen complaints about the Davis Police.

The ACR (alternative conflict resolution) Pilot Program is an informal, confidential mediation process which is based on two restorative practices: circle processes and non-violent communication.

Through the ACR Pilot Program, “Community members with a specific complaint about an interaction with Davis Police employees, and the Davis Police employee(s) meet in a face-to-face, restorative process with the assistance of a team of two trained Circle Co-Keepers, who are members of the Davis Community.”

On Wednesday, Darren Pytel was a participant in the Davis Downtown Community Discussion.

As Darren Pytel told the Vanguard, the event on Wednesday produced good dialogue and “helped people understand the others’ point of view. I think a lot of people moved more towards the middle after some dialogue.”

From the police perspective, “The second exercise was the most helpful for us. It provided useful direction as we start writing an actual ordinance. It also became evident there is not really consensus amongst the community or amongst the bar owners on the terms of an ordinance -that was interesting.“

He said, “We will be taking a look at all the comments that were turned in and taking a look at the charts we did to see where we had the most commonality and where the system could be nudged to hopefully be better.”

The hire of Darren Pytel, just before Thanksgiving after an interview process last week, means that the city now has just over a month to transition from Chief Landy Black to Chief Darren Pytel. That was one of City Manager Dirk Brazil’s hopes early in the process.

Dirk Brazil explained, “The goal (was) to not have a gap when Landy retires at the end of December.”

He added, “(Chief) Landy (Black) was very helpful in coming to me early in my tenure with his retirement plans which allowed us to look ahead and be prepared. The day he gave me his official notice we were able to release the position for recruitment.”

“I am thrilled that Darren, who like me is a Davis Senior High School graduate, was selected as the new police chief.  Darren’s long history with the City and his deep understanding of the community will serve Davis residents well,” said Mayor Dan Wolk.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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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5 thoughts on “Long-Time Police Officer Named New Chief”

  1. Tia Will

    My congratulations to Darren Pytel. Darren is in a position of respect and trust within the community through his own outreach and collaborative efforts. He has a lifelong understanding of Davis, the values of the community and has seen first hand how the community has and is changing over time. I think that our community leaders have made an excellent choice and I wish him all the best.

    My thanks and thoughts are also with Landy Black who deserves much credit for the police force Davis has today. I wish him all the best in his well deserved retirement.

  2. Tia Will


    Is this purely informational, or are you making a point ? Honest question. Because if the latter, it was lost on me. The question is prompted by your use of quotes around the word “transparency”.

    1. hpierce

      Pretty much informational.  Noted that the DV article/City release of announcement did not mention salary, yet recently folk have commented on “over-compensated” City employees.

      I would focus on salary, as it appears that “other benefits” may include ‘catch-up payments’ to PERS/OPRB, so it’s not like that money is available to the employee in the ‘here and now’.

      The quotes around “transparency” is due to selective use (often) of what the DV, including posters, choose to “share”, and they often cite “transparency”

      Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.  No deep and meaningful intent from this quarter.

      Your question is (I believe) honest, and I reply the same way.

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