While Berkeley’s search for a new police chief is just getting underway, neighboring Albany recently selected a new top cop.
Gregory Bone, a 25-year veteran of the Albany Police Department, was chosen by the Albany City Council in September to succeed 16-year Police Chief Larry Murdo.
“Chief Bone brings years of local experience, strong leadership and innovative ideas to the Albany Police Department,” said Mayor Peggy Thomsen, who along with City Council members settled on Bone after conducting a nationwide search that included more than 60 applicants.
Bone said the decision to promote from within was not lost on him or other officers.
“It shows approval of the work we have been doing and the trust we have built over the years,” he said.
Bone joined the APD in 1977 as a patrol officer and detective. In 1986 he was promoted to administrative and patrol sergeant, and in 1991 he was assigned the rank of lieutenant, responsible for the patrol division.
As chief, Bone is not planning any major changes for the department. “Chief Murdo has gotten us in a good position. We have a good and relatively safe community,” he said.
Bone’s appointment as police chief marks a first for Albany. Until last year, Albany and Santa Clara were the only two California cities to popularly elect their police chiefs.
City Administrator Beth Pollard explained that the election practice, set forth in the 1909 city charter, was devised to ensure that the chief would be an Albany resident in touch with local issues.CHIEF BONE/From Page 1
She said city officials saw no need to change the system as long as Chief Murdo continued to run for the post.
But after he announced in 2000 that he would not seek another four-year term, voters approved a change to the city charter providing for an appointed chief.
“It’s hard for police to live in the community as housing prices increase,” Pollard said. “It made the number of potential officers slim to none.”
Bone, who resides in Moraga, said his first priority is to hire new officers to bring the department back up to full strength.
Albany typically maintains 27 uniformed officers to protect a city of roughly 18,000. But, as has been the case throughout the Bay Area, early retirements have left the APD shorthanded, and it is currently making do with a force of 23.
“Our immediate challenge is hitting the academies,” Bone said. He will have plenty of competition from other cities also looking to hire. Last year Berkeley offered its full retirement package to officers at age 50 in order to help it recruit and retain officers. Albany offers the same top benefits at age 55.
Bone is hoping to foster improved cooperation between the Albany and Berkeley police departments. The APD uses the Berkeley jail and does some community service work with its Berkeley counterparts, but for the most part, they operate in separate spheres.
Bone said he has spoken to acting Berkeley Police Chief Roy Meisner and is interested in the two departments performing joint traffic enforcement on Marin Avenue, a major boulevard which runs through both cities.
Residents on both sides of Marin Avenue have complained about cars speeding down the street. However, Berkeley officials recently expressed concern about an Albany plan to reduce car traffic on the Albany stretch of Marin, fearing that motorists would opt for Berkeley roads instead.
Last month Berkeley hired Roseville–based Bob Murray and Associates, an executive search firm, to conduct a nationwide search for a chief to succeed Dash Butler, who retired earlier this year. The search is expected to last six months, and current Berkeley officers are expected to apply for the post.
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