EX-CHIEF MAKES JOKE REFERRING TO GUNS AT CITY HALL
By Steven Tavares
On the rare occasion the San Leandro City Council chambers are jammed to the rafters, Alameda County Fire Chief Sheldon Gilbert is usually there to clear the aisles and escort guests to the back of the room. On Monday, these were not just any residents lining each side of chambers, but police officers in clad in crisply-pressed dark blue uniforms. A color guard on one side and a sampling of Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli’s new force on the other.
Outgoing chief Ian Willis, leading the day’s events, teased Gilbert during the proceedings that the officers were not moving this time. “I know we have enough guns here to take care of that,” said Willis.
Willis was never known to be the most articulate of police chiefs. In fact, his largely successful run in San Leandro was accentuated by his quiet, cool demeanor and working class ethos that made for a nice fit with the city’s demographics . In light of the shootings in Arizona, though, the imagery of guns blazing inside the home of local government was highly inappropriate. The department is also still recovering from the shooting two weeks ago by a San Leandro police officer of a woman accused of stealing an automobile. The unnamed officer killed the woman believing she intended to run over another officer with the car.
At the time of the remark some giggled. While others, including some in law enforcement grimaced at the retort. Audience members were seen briefly murmuring among each other with enough sideways glances to make the moment a bit uncomfortable. A few who witnessed the remark declined to comment afterwards, but their corresponding facial expressions featuring indignation and surprise were enough. In the meantime, Willis is due to become a deputy at the Alameda County Sheriff Department and San Leandro is now in the hands of a new leader.
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