Interim Police Chief Larry Todd isn’t just happy for his former
subordinate, Jeff Miller, who was hired Friday as the Hollister
police chief. Todd is even more elated for the local force.
I’m excited for the department,
My intent was to do whatever little bit I could to help the city
manager (Dale Shaddox) find a very competent police chief.
Interim Police Chief Larry Todd isn’t just happy for his former subordinate, Jeff Miller, who was hired Friday as the Hollister police chief. Todd is even more elated for the local force.
“I’m excited for the department,” Todd said. “My intent was to do whatever little bit I could to help the city manager (Dale Shaddox) find a very competent police chief.”
Miller had been one of eight finalists for the position, and received the highest recommendations from an oral board that included three California police chiefs. It was unknown which chiefs were on the board because that information was kept confidential.
At a special meeting on Friday, the Hollister City Council officially confirmed the hiring of Miller after more than four months since former Chief Bill Pierpoint announced his retirement. Shaddox said Miller may start in early September.
Late last week, Miller publicly spoke for the first time about his pursuit of the police chief opening. He said he has many of the leadership traits exhibited by Todd, who was Miller’s boss for 13 years at the Los Gatos Police Department.
Todd, according to Hollister police union President Ray Wood, has gained widespread respect from officers during his 4–1/2 months here.
“He is a very bright, articulate and thoughtful individual,” Todd said of Miller. “He has a lot of leadership experience.”
From 1995 to 2000, Miller was a captain and second-in-command to Todd. Miller left Los Gatos to become the police chief and public safety director of Rohnert Park, which neighbors Santa Rosa.
Miller resigned from Rohnert Park – his only previous job as a chief – after 18 months because the police union there publicly expressed discontent with his leadership. Miller took a job as a patrol officer in Sonoma, where he is currently a sergeant.
Despite published reports about officer disapproval in Rohnert Park, many officials from the Rohnert Park area have said Miller was treated unfairly – that union politics led to his departure. Todd, who has kept an eye on Miller’s career, is one official who remained confident in the new chief’s ability to lead the department. He called Miller “an extremely ethical individual.”
“He could have stood his ground and fought the (Rohnert Park union) and made a stand,” Todd said. “But he didn’t think it was the best interest of the profession and the best interest of the (union).”
Todd said the experience in Rohnert Park should not reflect on Miller’s integrity or his leadership skills. The city’s climate, Todd said, was one of “turmoil.” After Miller’s departure, six other department heads have since left Rohnert Park.
Miller withdrew his name from consideration for the Hollister job on July 21 after officers from Rohnert Park again publicly criticized his leadership.
“The fact that he withdrew initially speaks to the fact that he didn’t want to create controversy in the community or for the city manager,” Todd said.
The Hollister police union has expressed a similar view to Todd’s. Furthermore, the local union was unanimously supportive of him and largely responsible for Miller’s confirmation.
After Miller had initially declined the position, the union stepped in and conducted an independent investigation of his past. The support persuaded Shaddox to re-offer the position to Miller.
From the union’s perspective, the most important attribute of a chief is an “open door” communication policy, Wood said. Officers and Todd believe the department will get that with Miller.
“Jeff is an outstanding communicator,” Todd said. “He will explain the broader perspective and help them understand the bigger picture. There will be a two-way communication with the staff and the community.”
Todd, if possible, would be the union’s ideal choice as a Hollister chief, according to Wood. But the 55-year-old Todd, who retired from Los Gatos in June 2002, has no plans for a return to permanent duties. So, Todd’s “right-hand man” for many years, according to Wood, is the “next best thing.”
“It’s flattering for me to hear that coming from my staff,” Todd said.
Todd also called the HPD “a good department with outstanding staff and great second-in-command captains.”
There was a “great deal of dissatisfaction” with Pierpoint’s leadership among officers, said Todd, who, regardless of that, spoke highly of Hollister’s two captains, Bob Brooks and Richard Vasquez.
“They haven’t been appropriately developed in the past and they deserve that opportunity,” Todd said. “And Jeff will help them achieve their goals.”
Todd’s family has purchased a house in the Hollister area, but they plan “to start a search for whatever phase of our lives will start next,” he said.
Todd said the first priority will be to prepare his daughter for her second year of college.
“I’ll keep my hat in the ring for additional interim police chief opportunities in the future.”