Palo Alto police chief Dennis Burns announced yesterday that he is retiring at the end of the year after 35 years with the city and eight years in the top position and several people who are typically police critics are praising Burns for his work.
Burns, 59, started working for the police department in 1982, and for a short time beginning in 2010, he also served as the interim Fire Chief.
He was busy during this time, and Palo Alto criminal defense attorney Tom Nolan, who worked with Burns when he was on one of the police advisory committees. Burns is “an exceptionally hard worker “, he said the praise is noteworthy considering that Nolan’s law firm often represents clients who were who who are arrested by Burns officers. “He’s the kind of cheap that Paula Walter deserves, “Nolan said, calling him intelligent and thoughtful.
Retired Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, who served on the committee that shows the finalist for the chief position, called Burns a “decent person “, who has done well for the city. “I am very pleased that he is the person we came up with to be the chief, “said Cordell, a former Palo Alto city Council woman. And he’s proven that he was up for the job, she said. Burns took over after former police chief Lynn Johnson resigned in 2008 amid accusations of racial profiling.
The next chapter
As for why he is retiring, Burns said it was simply time, according to a statement issued by the city. “I’m looking forward to the next chapter, “he said. “The organization is stable, and we have a capable, professional team in place. I am confident that we have the right personnel and organizational structure to ensure the Palo Alto Police Department will maintain its high standards and dedication to protecting the community,”
Throughout his career, Burns has worked patrol, served as a SWAT team leader, a detective and detective supervisor, a crime prevention officer, and a detective tactics instructor.
In 2015, Burns earned a total salary of $243,390. Burns was known for going out on patrol, even during his time as police chief. In 2012, he caught a couple of burglary suspects in East Palo Alto, after he put on it in uniform and went out. But some of Burns decisions have raised concerns over the years.
In 2011, Burns got heat for allowing Palo Alto police to provide mutual aid to Oakland when cops violently clashed with occupy protesters.
City manager James Keane said the city will conduct a nationwide search for a new police chief. In the meantime, Captain Ron Watson, a 26 year veteran, will serve as interim police chief, he said. But Watson has indicated that he will not be a candidate for the permanent police chief position, according to Keene.
California Public Records Request Reveals Chief Dennis’s Burns private state retirement party.
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