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Keep police out of politics in Albany

Jerome Blank
Saturday October 27, 2001


Having lived in Albany for over 70 years, my memories go back to old John Glavinovich, our Town Marshall prior to the new City Charter. He stood on the corner of San Pablo and Solano, directed traffic and escorted children across the street. In 1927, the new City Charter gave John the title of Chief of Police. He oversaw 3 persons, 2 of whom were motorcycle officers, without radios. Woe to the person who exceeded 25 miles per hour in Albany, as tough cop Frank Davis mercilessly gave out tickets. 

The Charter made the Chief's office elective, as did most small cities in those days. We in Albany have been fortunate to have had citizens living in Albany who had the qualities to head a small town department. As cities grew, most every city found that to obtain qualified chiefs, they had to select them from outside their boundaries. Only two cities in all of California still elect their Chief, one being Albany. To select a Chief for a modern department with all its complexities and problems, a city had to advertise the opening, demanding experience and qualifications, just as we do now for our Chief Administrative Officer, Public Works and Zoning Officers. 

By voting "YES" on Measure C, we do not give up any voting rights. After our present Chief retires, Measure C would allow our duly elected representatives on the Albany City Council to select a qualified experienced person from amongst a pool of applicants, who are screened and interviewed as to qualifications to head our department. Would we give up any rights as citizens if Measure C passed? A hearty NO! At present anyone having a non-police problem in the city can complain at weekly City Council meetings and have a hearing. If we have an unresponsive Council, we can elect new Councilpersons every two years, with persons who will listen to the citizens. On the other hand, at present, what citizen not satisfied with any action of the Police Department, would have the temerity to criticize the Police Department or its Chief should they have a problem. They would have to wait for four years to make any kind of change via an election. 

How long can we be so fortunate as to have qualified applicants for chief living in the city? The answer is to keep our Police Department out of politics and let our elected City Council and its Chief Administrative 

Officer handle the administration of every department of the city while allowing each Department Head to perform his or her duties. For Albany's future we must adopt Measure C by voting YES! 

Jerome Blank,  

former councilman and mayor