Orinda Names New Police Chief
Ryan Sullivan has been hired as Orinda’s new chief of police and is ready for the opportunity to serve Orinda and help make the community a safer place for all
By Ryan Ford
Contributing Sports Writer
After serving the community for almost two years, the Orinda City Council announced that David Cook was retiring from his position as the chief of police on August 18th, 2021.A month later, his replacement, Ryan Sullivan was sworn in as Orinda’s Chief of Police. After a thorough review of qualified candidates, Sullivan stood out as being the best for the job and expressed his excitement, “I’m very excited to be here,” he said.
The Orinda City Council claimed that they followed the normal protocols when searching for candidates to fill this important position. David Biggs, the City Manager of Orinda, described the hiring process as being routine. “Orinda has a contract with the county sheriff's department for policing services, who provided the city with three pre-qualified candidates for the position, all of whom had ranks of lieutenant or higher.” Biggs then conducted a process to have those candidates interviewed by Orinda’s executive management team and city council members to determine who would be the best fit from a community perspective. Out of that bin, Biggs extended the offer to Lieutenant Ryan Sullivan.
Before accepting this position, Sullivan had been working in Martinez at the Contra Costa County Emergency Operations Center as the Lieutenant responsible for internal affairs. When this opportunity arose, Sullivan was very excited, due in part to his family’s deep-rooted ties to the Lamorinda area. His family came to Lafayette in 1847, and growing up there always made the possibility of working in the area attractive to Sullivan.
When asked about what made Sullivan stand out during the hiring process, Biggs cited he was lucky enough to have three great candidates to choose from. But Sullivan’s experience with internal affairs in addition to his familiarity with the area made him the right choice for the job. “He brings the right tone to the job as far as being someone who would like to work with and engage in the community, which is very important here in Orinda.”
Fire prevention and emergency preparedness are some of the first day-to-day operations that Police Chief Sullivan will be working with the city council on, since Orinda has many areas referred to as “very high fire severity zones.” Continuing to reach out to the community will also be keyed on, as Orinda is working to bring back their neighborhood watch program. But, given the microscope that police departments throughout the country have been under ever since the murder of George Floyd, the chief of police may have more responsibilities than are listed in the job description.
Collin Fisher is a student at Saint Mary’s, and is the student co-chair for the Black Lives Matter Subcommittee on campus. When asked what he would like to see from the new chief of police, Fisher said that he believes there is a lot that can still be done by the Lamorinda police departments to help with racial injustice. “I would want to see more work towards lessening implicit bias and discrimination towards BIPOC individuals that live in the Lamorinda area.” Fisher added that having diversity training that educates on concepts like implicit bias and cultural norms is also important, because being able to understand these factors when dealing with people of different ethnic backgrounds will allow for better communication between the police and social justice groups.
Police Chief Sullivan understands the importance of policing given the political climate that this country is in. One of the responsibilities that Sullivan believes police chiefs owe to their communities is being compassionate and ethical. “Ethical policing is every chief’s responsibility. Doing so at all times will provide the level of service that the community deserves. Everybody deserves this when dealing with the police.” Sullivan went on to say that he has high expectations for himself and his police department, and wants to have a police force that is highly vested in the community. “Although they [Orinda Police] might not live in the Orinda, I want them to police as if their kids were walking to school, or their significant other was going to work in this community. I expect us all to be present, visible, proactive, compassionate, and ethical.”
Ryan Sullivan’s impressive resume and family ties show a strong commitment for this next stage in his career. Having the honor to work in Lamorinda, given his family’s history in the area, made this opportunity a dream come true, “It’s incredible. If my grandfather was alive he would be extremely excited. He had an attachment from growing up in Lafayette as a child, so being able to work in the Lamorinda area and hold the position of Chief of Police would’ve made him pretty proud.”
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Ryan Ford '23,