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The Other Candidate

[whitespace] Lansdowne wins high marks from colleagues

By Cecily Barnes

IF WHISTLING ABILITY COUNTS in the race to be San Jose's next top cop, Richmond police chief William Lansdowne has it made. Everyone who's worked with him, and even those who haven't, never fail to mention the candidate's whistle. Some go so far as to call him "the whistler," and one inside source said he'll whistle even as he's preparing to chew someone out.

Fortunately, whistling isn't his only claim to fame. Lansdowne has been lauded for strengthening Richmond's community policing program and manning the post while homicide and crime rates plummeted. His colleagues in Richmond say during Lansdowne's reign, police visibility has increased.

"He's not one of those people who goes home at 5--he's out in the community all the time," says Richmond vice mayor John Marquez. "He has put more police officers on the street, not only riding around in their vehicles but actually getting out and talking with the constituents. That has given him a lot of praise in our city because people feel comfortable meeting with officers and talking with them."

Cops who worked with Lansdowne during his 30 years in San Jose think he's the better man to be their next boss.

"He was the kind of guy I could go to and communicate with, and he seems like he's more at ease speaking in front of groups than Adkins," says SJPD's Sergeant Michel Amaral. "Lansdowne has more time in law enforcement. Most of the people I've shared this information with agree."

Like any police chief, however, Lansdowne has found himself defending against a few lawsuits. Just last month, a family filed papers against Lansdowne and the city of Richmond after a police dog attacked their 3-year-old when it escaped from a police car. The family argues that police were negligent by allowing the dog to escape, and that it had been trained to attack racial minorities.

In 1995, a woman sued Lansdowne after police mistook her home for another residence, and barged in ordering her and her six children out of bed at gun point.

Lansdowne was also on board when a man on trial for two Richmond murders was let off with a 14-year sentence because a Richmond police officer was having an undisclosed affair with a key witness in the case.

Despite these hurdles, Lansdowne continues to whistle while he works. As vice mayor Marquez puts it, "you always know when Chief Lansdowne is in the area."

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From the July 30-Aug. 5, 1998 issue of Metro.

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