Retired Pleasanton police Chief David Spiller took on the role of Menlo Park's interim police chief on Friday, July 31.
He replaced police Chief Dave Bertini, who suddenly announced his departure during a June City Council discussion on police reform.
Spiller retired seven months ago from the Pleasanton Police Department, and since then has worked with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's Office of Internal Affairs as a member of the organization's Deadly Force Review Board, according to a July 30 press release.
He said in an interview that the opportunity came up rather unexpectedly.
Spiller said he hopes to utilize his leadership abilities and calm demeanor to help the city of Menlo Park ease its transition as City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson works through the recruitment process to find a new police chief.
He's taking the reins of a new police department in the middle of a pandemic, albeit in an interim role. He said he isn't sure how long he'll be in the position – he serves at the pleasure of the city manager – but that he looked forward to leading the department for the next several months.
As police chief in Pleasanton, he said, he worked to partner with the community and develop trust. In a 2015 interview with the Pleasanton Weekly, The Almanac's sister publication, Spiller discussed his goals for teamwork within the police department, community outreach, embracing technology and the difficulty in finding good police recruits.
As in other communities, national events have pushed discussions about police reform to the forefront for local leaders in Menlo Park, and broadly increased public scrutiny of police policies.
"I think some of the challenges for this organization, much like any law enforcement agency, are staffing and continuing to recruit qualified police professionals while doing as much as we can to represent the diversity of our community, and to continue to work to build meaningful relationships with the community," Spiller said.
"Chief Spiller has led a distinguished law enforcement career and is known for cultivating a spirit of cooperation and community building between his officers and residents," said Jerome-Robinson in a press release. "I'm fully confident in Chief Spiller's ability to lead the department professionally and with the utmost integrity, transparency and commitment through this time of transition."
Spiller began his law enforcement career with the city of San Diego's police department, then worked for 11 years with the Mountain View Police Department, according to Jerome-Robinson. In 2002, he joined the Pleasanton Police Department and became police chief in 2011.
When he retired in November, it was noted that as a career police professional, Spiller served in every sworn rank position, climbing from patrol officer to police chief.
"I have spent my entire adult life in public service and I look forward to continuing to serve," he said in the press release.
His educational background includes an associate degree in administration of justice from De Anza College, a bachelor's degree in organizational behavior from the University of San Francisco and a master's degree in public sector leadership from Saint Mary's College, according to the city's press release. He is a graduate of the Senior Management Institute for Police through the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and of California's Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) Command College.