I am writing in regard to the negativity being shown by a few toward Oakdale Police Chief Marty West. It is time to speak up. Through the years, I have been an advocate of bicycle and pedestrian safety in our community. Back a while, with Council direction, I was asked to help formulate a plan to set up a bike and pedestrian safety committee. I also became involved with school-related committees regarding these issues. The city’s committee was able to accomplish many goals, but it wasn’t until the hiring of Chief Hampton that the Police Department began to take a more proactive role.
One area needing attention was a better response time to questions asked of committee members or meeting deadline commitments. Two years ago, I asked Chief West’s secretary if I could meet with a Sergeant or Lieutenant to express my concerns. On his own initiative, Chief West arranged a meeting that included the School Resource Officer, Lieutenant, and himself. I was embarrassed by the idea of this larger meeting format, but he was right in his decision. The meeting was very useful. I got the opportunity to explain some of the weaknesses in communication over the years and the officers helped educate me about difficulties they face in implementing improvement. I was proud of the flow of ideas, which helped both parties come up with possible solutions.
Another area Chief West helped with was my desire to provide outreach to parents through the use of short announcements at local Neighborhood Watch meetings. He referred me to an officer who showed interest in helping.
Finally, in regard to sending an officer to a county address to help a Mayor’s family member, I have lived here 58 years and have always considered that area “Oakdale.” I believe the Chief felt the call was worthy of an Oakdale response, especially in light of the Sheriff Department’s warning that their response would be late in arriving. On the recorded tape, Chief West alluded to the good politics that can come from helping the Mayor. As a former Stanislaus County representative and State assembly district office manager and current teacher, I can say it is a common and expected practice for government employees, including City Council members and other elected officials, to help their constituents in the most expeditious manner possible. And, it is not a bad thing to do a good thing for a constituent and also be happy you are improving your boss’s or department’s image as long as the “helping” is the prime motivation, as I believe was the case here.
I ask the good people of Oakdale to evaluate Chief West fairly. He deserves that.