SPAGNOLI BECOMES SAN LEANDRO’S POLICE CHIEF; FIRST WOMAN IN CITY HISTORY
By Steven Tavares
|New San Leandro Police Chief
Sandra Spagnoli’s first day at the helm of the San Leandro Police Department started at 6:30 a.m. this morning. It was another in a series of bitterly chilly morning that have recently stalked the East Bay. While there she awaited the first of two mundane days of field training, this day, featuring a stint at the shooting range.
“Can I get some bullets?” asked Spagnoli. During her swearing-in as San Leandro’s first female police chief today at City Hall, Spagnoli said she failed her shooting test leaving retiring Ian Willis to joke with dismay, “I’m leaving on Tuesday. That’s my last day. You need to pass.”
With many of the police force ringing the walls of the council chambers along with a full house of local dignitaries and family, Spagnoli was sworn-in by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto, who briefly flubbed the oath by asking her twice to pledge allegiance to both the state and U.S. Constitutions. Spagnoli’s teenage son and husband, who is also a police officer in San Jose, pinned the honorary badge on her uniform.
Spagnoli, 43, ended four years as chief of the Benicia Police Department last month to become San Leandro’s tenth chief of police and third in the last three years. She got her start in law enforcement in San Carlos, volunteering as a junior officer at 16. “I wanted to arrest people,” Spagnoli said recalling her first recollections of police work. “I wanted to write tickets.”
“I really wanted to part of the public safety family and part of making a community safe,” she said. “Early in my career, I really realized this wasn’t just a job, it’s something I believe is a call to duty.”
Many expect the hiring of Spagnoli puts an ends a vicious cloud of department in-fighting and accusations of sexual harassment among San Leandro male officers against female employees. San Leandro City Manager Stephen Hollister, who hired Spagnoli to replace the retiring Willis, called the day “historic.”