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Sebastappeal by Sarah Glade Gurney

Our Two Chiefs

Nov 23, 2017
by Sarah Glade Gurney

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With great appreciation for his professional service and dedication, our community wishes the very best to retiringPolice Chief Jeff Weaver.

 As a Council Member, I have always been very proud of Chief Weaver and even bragged about him. To locals, I have often explained that they could call or email our Chief directly and he would answer. A lot of people were astounded to learn about his accessibility and responsiveness, thinking, I guess, that there must be many insulating layers between the Chief and the public. Not so, for Jeff and Sebastopol.

To Countywide colleagues, I’ve recited my favorite story about Chief Weaver. During the Occupy Movement, the Council held five special meetings to discuss our community’s situation at The Plaza. One of these evenings, Chief Weaver received three standing ovations from the assembled public – not what we expected in the midst of historic national conflict.

 Now enter our new Chief James Conner, “My highest priorities are ensuring the safety of our community and providing the best service possible to our City and Department members.” Chief Conner will continue projects that he and Chief Weaver have already started or planned: increasing the ranks of theReserve Police Officer Bureau and rebuilding the Explorer Post and Adult Volunteerprograms.

“We’ve been blessed with some awesome volunteers, but that’s a double-edged sword. Really great volunteers frequently end up being someone else’s really great employee,” he explains, continuing, “So we find ourselves with a dwindled volunteer force and need what sports teams refer to as a ‘rebuilding season.’”

Chief Conner will know how to train and mentor others, having worked closely with Chief Weaver for the last eight years managing the Police Department together. “I feel fortunate to have been able to learn from him as he considered issues and made decisions.“

While the two Chiefs have been friends for over two decades and colleagues for much of that time, James is not sure how similar, or different from Jeff, he will be. They share the commitment to serve this community and this Department, but, candidly, James remarks, Jeff “is far more ‘polished’ than I am.”

“I have very much enjoyed being a part of the Sebastopol community, and a part of the City family. It’s nice to be appreciated by the community for the service that we try hard to provide and it’s nice to work with people who are really dedicated to provide excellent service to the community.”

With almost 22 years of experience interacting with the Sebastopol community, he’s convinced that nearly all of the folks are well-intentioned and caring people, even some of the non-law-abiding people he’s encountered. “For the most part, they’re good people who made bad decisions and ended up facing the consequences of those decisions.”

He knows Sonoma County well – he’s almost a native, moving to Santa Rosa from his birthplace Alabama upon his father’s retirement from the Army, when he was about a year and a half old. A 1983 graduate of Piner High School, he enlisted in the Air Force and served as a military policeman for six years. The next six years he worked as an executive in finance, returning to law enforcement, here at the SPD, in early 1996.

On a personal note, our new Chief recently celebrated his thirtieth wedding anniversary with “his beautiful bride, Franny.” They have five adult children, nine grandchildren, and expect number ten next spring.

Identifying himself as a Cajun, James’s favorite saying has always been, “Laissez les bons temps rouler.” Let’s hope for our good future together.

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