By Police Chief Pat Nikolai
I am adamantly opposed to making the Chief of Police an appointed position. And the residents of Santa Clara agree with my opinion. I base that statement on the following facts:
• The voters have rejected this proposal in two previous elections.
• The last Charter Review Committee decided to not even place it on the ballot.
• A recent survey showed that the vast majority of respondents prefer having an elected Chief.
I find it ironic that the Council Pillar under which this measure is being proposed is “Enhance Community Engagement and Transparency”. Elections are the foundation of Community Engagement. How does taking the vote away from residents “enhance” their engagement?
The Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force also looked at this issue. They submitted a letter to the City Council stating, “…having an elected Chief of Police promotes access, accountability, and equity.”
So again, I ask: How does making the Chief an appointed position “enhance transparency”?
Recent events have shown that an elected Chief is independent, and is willing to call out potential issues, putting public safety ahead of special interests. Would an appointed Chief
have been willing to do the same?
I urge the City Council to focus on issues critical to the City, such as finding a long-term budget solution to our ongoing structural deficit and the critical shortage in our Capital Improvement Budget.
Editor’s Note: Police Chief Pat Nikolai submitted this memo last week to the City Council as they discussed possibly taking away the rights of Santa Clarans to elect a Police Chief. It has been edited slightly for publication.