Alameda police chief explains why he’s stepping down

Police Chief Paul Rolleri of Alameda announced his retirement and tells KTVU how the department could make a statement choosing his successor.

He said it's a very demanding job even in a city the size of Alameda and he's proud of the work the department has done.

Chief Rolleri leads a department of 69 officers. He decribes himself as a people person and a problem solver. 

He joined Alameda police in 1992. Now, after 28 years, the last seven as chief, he says it's time to retire.

"Honestly, it's a younger person's game. I'm not out on the streets doing police work anymore. Haven't for a while," said Roller. "You can't ever really be off, even at night. You get a call in the middle of the night, even in a town like Alameda. 

The Alameda native says he made the decision to retire while on vacation in January.

The 56-year-old's announcement comes two months after a controversial incident in which someone called police on a Black man dancing in the street as exercise.

"The body cam footage that we released did not have to be released. There was no legal obligation for me to do it," says Rolleri. 

The chief says he released the video because he has nothing to hide. 

He says the two officers who took down the man are new to the department. 

One had eight weeks on street patrol the other, four weeks.

They were not paired together. By chance, both were dispatched to that call and arrived at the scene in separate patrol vehicles.

"People were concerned as to why I didn't just fire them. But again, there's a process.

That process includes an outside, independent investigation that is underway.

The two officers are on paid administrative leave. 

The chief says that incident played no role in his decision to retire, but that change in the department is good and inevitable. 

"If we're going to change, let's go big," said Chief Rolleri.

Big means a departure from a history of white men leading the department and the best qualified leader.

 "If they can package that with a woman or a person of color, I think that would be a great thing.  It would be progress and change and it would be good for everyone," said Rolleri.   

Rolleri says he hopes his legacy will be that he was a good and fair chief.

"There's lots of great things in this town and what this department has done. I would hope that we all could be judged by that and not just one or two moments," said Rolleri.

His last day will be August 28.

He says he plans to unplug his cell phone and relax.