According to Matier and Ross in the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland, California School Police Chief Pete Sarna went out on a charity golf tournament, and, well this is how Matier and Ross explain it:
The district is looking into accusations that the chief, who is white, let loose July 18 with a half-hour tirade loaded with racist epithets against his two sergeants and a police driver – who apparently was called to the event at the Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland so no one would be driving drunk.
Sarna allegedly told the African American sergeant, who lives in Orinda, that “the only good n- is a dead n- and they should hang you in the town square to prevent any other n- from coming in the area.”
That’s racist. Pure and simple. Racist. (As a note, we’re talking about the Oakland Public School’s Police Chief, not the Oakland Police. But to someone like Oakland Tribune Photographer Jane Tyska, that didn’t matter when she was assaulted by then Oakland Schools Police Art Michel, who also retired.)
Now, the claim is that Pete Sarna’s wife is black, which might cause a reader to think “Well, it’s OK he made those statements.” It’s not. In fact, it’s worse. Let me explain why.
For some reason, some men think that because their wife is of another color, they can make racist comments about the “group” the wife represents. The classic example of this was the former KPIX Channel Five Sports Anchor who used to hold court at the old King’s X Bar on 51st and Pleasant Valley, and launch into a drunken tirade about Vietnamese using a term I will not print.
Then the anchor, who passed away some time ago, would say “It’s OK. My wife’s Vietnamese.” He’d do this until someone asked him to stop. But the tirade made us wonder if he beat his wife. Just saying.
I’m not accusing Chief Sarna of such an act, but I am saying a person in that situation leaves themselves open to massive questions and inquiry about their character. Especially an Oakland Police Officer who is allowed to carry a gun in a city with a significant black population.
If that is how Oakland School’s Police Chief Sarna thinks about African Americans, take his gun and his badge away from him, now! Oakland does not need any police officer who might be the next Johannes Mehserle.
I’ve often advocated for a two-years-on, two-years-off policy, where a police officer works for two years, then take a two-year sabbatical. The idea is to get the officer away from that negative social bubble, and out into the World, to see how people really are.
My contention is that being a police officer can screw up the mind of one who may already be unstable. Being assigned to low-income areas or around people most likely to commit crimes can only form a negative stereotype about the people who look a certain way, if they happen to be different from the police officer.
Better to give the officer a break, unless they turn out like Chief Sarna.
The way Chief Sarna talks, how do you know he’s not holding a fantasy of shooting black men in Oakland? Arguably, given that he has a gun, he would be the one most likely to go off and do that, even if he stops himself in the process of shooting.
Dangerous. Just dangerous.
I know my take is a hard line, but better we let go of Pete Sarna than have him involved in some kind of accidental shooting or questionable conduct against an Oaklander – especially against one who’s black.