Yesterday, The Oakland Unified School District lost its police chief Pete Sarna, after the officer, allegedly intoxicated, reportedly went off an an “N-word” laced rant against an African American sergeant who was his inferior.
As reported by San Francisco Chronicle Columnists Phil Matier and Andy Ross, the result was an internal investigation that resulted in Chief Sarna’s resignation from his job.
But Pete Sarna’s not the first Oakland Unified School District Police Chief to be involved in a conduction issue that apparently served as the catalyst for his retirement. The last person to suffer such an indignity was Art Michel in 2008.
If you are a photojournalist, and especially if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you remember that name. former Chief Michel will be know for this encounter with Oakland Tribune Photographer Jane Tyska:
A good friend of mine knew Chief Michel at the time, and went to bat for him in a conversation with this blogger, saying “Art’s a good guy. I think the pressure of the job just got to him.”
That, in hindsite, may also be true for now-former Chief Sarna. But it explains why I think that police officers should be given sabbaticals (yes, paid) from the job. There’s something wrong when one institution produces high level managers who make public failures in judgement, as Officers Michel and Sarna have done.
And note, we are talking about the Oakland Unified School District Police Unit, which is a totally separate organization from the Oakland Police Department.