By Steven Tavares.
San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli is leaving for the cement ponds of Beverly Hills, the city announced Thursday. Spagnoli has served as police chief since January 2011. Her last day on duty is Mar. 13.
“I will miss the people the most, including my fellow City employees, community members, elected officials and other colleagues throughout Alameda County,” said Spagnoli. “During my tenure, our organization has enhanced service delivery in San Leandro while developing effective partnerships that have incorporated community input into policy development, hiring, promotions and departmental operations. I am proud of the ongoing work SLPD continues to do to keep San Leandro a safe and thriving community.”
Spagnoli took over a police department five years ago that is best described as rooted in San Leandro’s past old boy network and divided after a lawsuit by a black police officer alleged wrongdoing in its practice of promoting blacks. Several female police officers alleged sexual harassment by the same black officer and also alleged discrimination by the force due to the lack of women promoted to higher positions.
In subsequent years, Spagnoli was credited with improving the racial and gender makeup of the force and education level of new officers.. Quickly, government meetings that once featured San Leandro police officers merely addressing the city council included police captains and lieutenants describing elaborate PowerPoint presentations and videos.
However, unlike another noted East Bay police chief—Richmond’s Chris Magnus—who recently departed for Tucson, Ariz. and was known for his progressive innovations in law enforcement—Spagnoli’s tenure in San Leandro was less so. Like most police chiefs, Spagnoli initially opposed medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, citing often debunked rises in crime. She later came around to tacitly favoring the dispensaries, which are set to open sometime this year. Spagnoli also favored the purchase of an armored medical vehicle that drew strong opposition from the community.
Following Spagnoli’s departure, Capt. Jeff Tudor has been selected to serve as interim chief, said City Manager Chris Zapata. A San Leandro native, Tudor rose through the ranks of the San Leandro Police Department over the past 21 years.