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Santa Rosa Police Department-The Dish on Dispatch


by Greg and Janel

The Dispatch Blog Team

Welcome to the first blog of the communication center for the Santa Rosa Police Department, aka dispatch. We hope to give you a little insight into the way our dispatch center operates and would love to answer any questions you might have about what we do.

Dispatchers are the link between the community and police officers. As dispatchers, we understand the importance of taking care of our community and officers at a moment’s notice. We are always available to our citizens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

During a normal 24-hour period, dispatchers enter approximately 375 calls for service. Calls for service include reports of criminal or suspicious activity, traffic accidents, stolen property, parking violations, request for an officer’s assistance, or other quality of life issues. When you call the Santa Rosa Police Department you will be greeted with “911 what’s your emergency” or “Santa Rosa Police Department”, depending on if you call 911 or the non-emergency number. At any given time there are anywhere from three to seven of us working on the phones and radio, helping out the community and our officers.

Each of our 18 dispatchers answer an average of 12,000 calls per year. That’s over 200,000 calls every year to our department in the dispatch center alone. The calls come in on 911 lines, non-emergency lines and inter department lines. Each line has its own special ring so we don’t even have to look at the phone screen to know what line is ringing. Some of us have been working for Santa Rosa for 27 years others just 3 months. We all have gone through or are going through a year of on the job training as well as keeping our skillset up with mandatory state trainings. One thing we all have in common is, we love helping others.

Our workstations include 6 different computer screens, 3 different keyboards, phone keypad, and 4 different mice. It might sound like a lot, but while we are talking to you we could be using almost every piece of that equipment to get you the help you need.

As we develop our blog, we hope you will feel more involved with what is going on with your local law enforcement dispatch center. We are excited to share with you some information about who we are and what we do. We look forward answering all your questions and hope you enjoy the ride.

~ Greg and Janel
(Your SRPD dispatch blog team)

Santa Rosa Police Department's photo.
Santa Rosa Police Department's photo.
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Craig Schwartz: Close to Home: Warrior or Guardian?



August 29, 2015, 12:05AM

Captain Craig Schwartz of the Santa Rosa Police Department
Captain Craig Schwartz of the Santa Rosa Police Department

There has been a great deal of debate across our country lately about whether law enforcement officers should adopt a warrior or guardian mindset.

The issue featured prominently in the report by the President’s Commission on 21st Century Policing. One of the first recommendations in that report says that law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian mindset to build public trust and legitimacy. The recommendation also states that agencies should adopt procedural justice as a guiding principle for our interactions with the public.

The Santa Rosa Police Department recently sent officers to a “train the trainer” course for procedural justice and will be training the whole department in the topic over the coming year. The tenets of procedural justice are nothing new to the department, but this training will enhance our current practices and performance.

One of the panelists on the President’s Commission described warriors as soldiers whose mission is to conquer, to follow set rules of engagement and obey orders. The same panelist defined guardians as protectors who must make independent decisions and operate with evolving rules of engagement. I understand the points this person is making and also disagree with some of the characterizations she uses to distinguish warriors and guardians.

Law enforcement is a complex profession that requires a difficult balance between caution and openness. Officers must treat people with respect and dignity and avoid acting so we are seen as an outside, occupying force. We need to be a part of our communities. At the same time, peace officers must always be prepared to use force when necessary.

In the decade between 2004 and 2013, American law enforcement officers were assaulted an average of approximately 59,000 times each year. These statistics show one major difference between law enforcement and most other professions. Many jobs are dangerous, but few come with the expectation that people will intentionally try to hurt you.

I was always taught that a good police officer should maintain a warrior mindset. Being thought of as a warrior was an honor. That said, I don’t see much difference between a warrior and a guardian. To me, a warrior is someone who perseveres in difficult times and stands up for what is right.

A warrior sacrifices his or her time, sweat and, if necessary, blood to do what is right. A warrior, like a guardian, protects others and defends ideals. In our case, those ideals are the Constitution and the laws of our city, state and nation.

The warrior I see does not seek to fight because fights are ugly and scary. People get hurt, and a warrior neither wishes for injury nor does he or she look forward to hurting others. When required, however, warriors and guardians both will fight to defend themselves, protect others or uphold the law. I have never considered a warrior to be an oppressor or conqueror who follows orders without independent thought. In fact, I think history shows that our warriors and guardians, whether in the military or law enforcement, are at their best when they have the ability to both follow orders and exercise appropriate discretion and independent decision-making. I believe a guardian and warrior share the same qualities, so the argument about which mindset to adopt in policing is just a question of semantics to me.

Call us warriors or call us guardians. I know that a good peace officer is both, because even guardians will need to be warriors in those times when de-escalation fails and we have to use force. Our task and our pledge is to use that force lawfully, reasonably and only when necessary.

–Capt. Craig Schwartz

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Captain’s Blog-Playful Realism

The subject of this post is near and dear to me: back in my Petaluma PD days, I worked with Tom Swearingen and his wife, Peggy. They were reserves with the department, then Tom went on to Santa Rosa and had a fulfilling career there. Since his retirement, he has re-invented himself with his art. I’m a fan; so is Craig. Check out his website and you might also find art worth spending a little time on.–Thonie

Captain’s Blog, 7-3-15: Happy 4th of July!

By Craig Schwartz, Captain

Santa Rosa, Ca Police Department

SRPD Badge by Tom Swearingen
SRPD Badge by Tom Swearingen

Happy 4th of July everyone! I hope you all enjoy a great day with family and friends celebrating our nation’s independence. I highly recommend checking out the Red, White, and Boom fireworks show at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds on Saturday night. Also, please think of your pets and make sure they are safe and secure before fireworks start going off. I know…we shouldn’t have individual fireworks displays going off because they’re illegal, right? How could that happen? In any case, a lot of dogs are very frightened by the fireworks and escape their yards every 4th of July. I know I’d be devastated to lose my German Shepherd. Let’s keep ‘em safe.

For this 4th of July I’d like to show you a painting by my friend, mentor and former boss. Tom Swearingen retired from the Santa Rosa Police Department as a Lieutenant several years ago. He has been a mentor of mine since we met while he was doing my background investigation before I was hired in 1992. He supervised me several times during my career and I learned a great deal from him.

Since his retirement, Tom has taken up painting and is now a successful local artist. His work was showcased in the City Council Chambers within the last year. He recently completed a painting that I had to show you all on the 4th of July. Tom’s rendition of the Santa Rosa Police Department badge, reflecting the American Flag, is as patriotic and service-minded as anything I can think of. Tom is now looking to serve California law enforcement agencies and the families of fallen officers by creating and donating custom paintings of the deceased officers’ badges.

Thanks Tom, for your leadership and service over your career, and for your continued service to our profession.

Happy 4th everyone! Be safe.

– Captain Craig Schwartz

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Let’s Talk about Filming the Police

Captain Craig Schwartz of the Santa Rosa Police Department
Captain Craig Schwartz of the Santa Rosa Police Department

Captain Craig Schwartz of the Santa Rosa (California) Police Department writes about police matters in his Facebook Santa Rosa Police page. He has given permission to re-post his article. For the direct feed, go to Santa Rosa Police Department’s Facebook page 

Captain’s Blog: Let’s talk about filming the police.

Hello again,

Before I get into the topic of this post, I’d like to ask for your input. We want to continue these blog-like posts, with information about the Department, our work, and policing related topics of interest, but I need a good title for them. I’m calling my posts the Captain’s Blog for now, but if you have suggestions for a different title, send them in via the comments. Keep it clean please!

Now, on to our topic of the day. My recent post about the incidents in our Downtown on Monday morning brings up a chance for a conversation about a topic that sometimes bring the police into conflict with people in the community: filming or recording the police.

We see news stories all too frequently across the country which show officers ordering people to turn off their cameras, seizing cameras, or even arresting people who are recording us as we go about our duties. There were a number of people filming one of the events I described from Monday morning, and we regularly tell our officers to expect that they are being recorded every time they are in public doing their job.

The fact is that it is perfectly legal to film the police while they are performing their duties in a public place, as long as the recording is not surreptitious. The law does say that people cannot record a confidential communication without the consent of all the parties involved in that communication, but taking photos or video of the police working in public is a 1st Amendment right.

If a photo or video recording may constitute evidence, the police may ask your consent to view or copy the photo or video, but we generally do not have the authority to seize your property without a warrant signed by a judge.

We actually welcome people to film us. If we are doing our jobs right, the recordings will help us by showing that. If we act improperly or make mistakes, we need to see that so that we can be accountable and improve our performance. People should remember however, that the right to film or record the police does not allow them to interfere with officers in the performance of their duties. If someone gets too close or otherwise begins to interfere with the officers, they may be subject to arrest whether or not they are trying to exercise their right to record. Please stay far enough back so that we don’t have to divert our attention away from the tasks at hand. We may have legitimate safety concerns if bystanders get too close or try to insert themselves into an incident in the interest of getting a “close-up”. If we are at a crime scene, we may also need to keep people out of that scene to preserve evidence and continue our investigation.

Also, officers have the need to safely control people who are being arrested or detained and may have legal and safety justification to prevent those people from accessing their smart phones or other property during a detention.

Finally, I think it is important to remember that any recording, whether from a bystander the officer, or a patrol car dash camera, shows only a part of any incident. The camera does not necessarily present a situation as experienced by any of the participants, and we all view events or videos through our own lenses based on the facts we have at the time and our own biases. It is important to view a recording as an important piece of any investigation, but we can’t always judge an incident based solely on that video or audio recording.

Just a few thoughts. Thanks for reading,

Captain Craig Schwartz

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Captain’s Blog-Santa Rosa PD

This article from a Facebook post dated May 12, 2015 from Santa Rosa (California) Police Department. Written by Captain Craig Schwartz, it is a press release illustrating a police contact what went well. By posting this, I hope to increase awareness of what cops do right


Captain’s Blog

Monday was a very busy day for the dispatchers, officers, and detectives. While our Violent Crimes Detectives were working to solve the homicide that took place during the early morning hours, our main radio frequency seemed to be busier than normal with calls of people acting bizarrely and threatening themselves or others. Patrol officers responded to one of our downtown parking garages because a man was standing on a ledge at the top of the garage, yelling and threatening to jump. When they arrived they found that a courageous City employee had intervened to get the man off the ledge. The officers were able to find the man in the garage and safely detain him for a mental health evaluation and treatment.

That call came very shortly after another call of a man acting strangely and yelling in the downtown area. A number of people filmed our response to this incident and one of the videos even made it to YouTube. [I couldn’t find it] We were glad to see the video. It showed our officers doing their jobs well, but it didn’t capture the whole incident. The video did show Sgt. Lisa Banayat, Officers John Barr, Matt Sanchez, and others from our day shift patrol team exercising patience and restraint while trying to resolve a risky situation with a volatile person. The video did not capture the beginning of the incident, when the man was yelling for officers to shoot him while he refused to comply with their directions and remove his hands from his pockets. The video also didn’t show the items officers found on the man after they were able to gain his voluntary compliance without any use of force.

SRPD stuff in pocketThe picture attached here shows the weapons the man had on him at the time. The pistol shown in the picture was actually a pellet gun, but looks like a real firearm. The officers were able to get this man the help he needed as well.

Thanks to all the officers and dispatchers involved in these two incidents, along with the others taking place that morning. All these incidents were resolved peacefully due to their tactics and decision-making skills. Well done!

– Capt. Craig Schwartz

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A Commentary from a Friend

By Joe Mariani, a retired Marin and Sonoma County teacher and administrator

re-posted from Facebook, with permission 


First of all, I love to read your Hal Collier stories.

But what sad news last night!

As a school administrator for SRCS [Santa Rosa City Schools] I regularly worked with the SRPD [Santa Rosa Police Department] & SO [Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office] and Probation. Several years before I retired in ’99 and then for the following decade when I was an on-call substitute administrator at all of the secondary schools in SRCS, we finally got 5 campus based PD officers who would split their time between our five high schools and their five feeder middle schools. As a building administrator I also attended the monthly Sonoma County gang- related meetings with the the same three groups at the SRPD main, where we would discuss the previous month’s gang activities & share intelligence.

Most regular citizens don’t have a clue about the dangerous and hard job that police & sheriff officers face every day, and how much we rely on them for our safety.

Also, it was always so great to see the paramedics & fire truck roll up – please no code 3! – when we had a badly injured or really sick student down. I go crazy when I see all if the bad press that today’s cops are getting, when I know from personal experience that all of the people who I worked with were good guys & ladies. And I also know that there is a “rest of the story” about the people who cops deal with every day/night that usually gets glossed over in the news. I dealt with middle & high school kids, non-students coming on campus, and adults for over 3 decades in a zillion “rest of the story” situations. It was so great to call or finally have a designated police officer to help with my 1056 [suicide/attempt], 415 [peace disturbance- can be a domestic or dog barking and everything in between], 242 [battery], H&W [Health and Welfare Code-known also as Welfare and Institutions Code-violation usually pertains to laws specifically to protect children’s welfare] , & even occasional 245 [assault with a deadly weapon], et al!

So my heart & prayers also go out to one more member of our “thin blue line, his Department, and his family.

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Craig Schwartz’s Wrap Up

National Academy Wrap-Up: Good to be home

December 28, 2012

Sunset just after clouds parted. Heading home tomorrow.
Sunset just after clouds parted. Heading home tomorrow.

The research papers are done and the tests all taken. The 260+ members of Session 251 at the FBI National Academy graduated on December 14 and separated to return to our families and work. I planned to write this final post about my experiences at the National Academy, but have been procrastinating. My tardiness may be because I have been busy since I returned, getting reacquainted with my family, friends, and co-workers, but it may also be because I enjoyed my time in Quantico so much and don’t want to think about writing leave it too far behind me.

SRPD Promotion Ceremony
SRPD Promotion Ceremony

I returned home for the first time in 11 weeks on the night of December 14. This was the longest separation I have had from my family, and it was wonderful to walk through my front door again and be with them again. Their support made the entire experience possible for me and I will always appreciate their love and sacrifice. Even my dog remembered me and was excited to see me! A few days later I went back to work in my new position as a Captain. The Department held a promotion and swearing-in ceremony on Monday, December 17 at City Hall. The Chief swore in three young men as new Police Officers and our Personnel Services Team introduced one new Communications Dispatcher and one new Police Technician. Three Police Officers were promoted to the rank of Sergeant, three Sergeants promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, and I became a Captain. The ceremony was the best I’ve seen at the Santa Rosa Police Department and it was great to see the Council Chambers filled with family and friends. I can’t think of a better way to return home.

FBI National Academy seal
FBI National Academy seal

I can’t think of much to say about the experience at the National Academy that I haven’t posted before. The FBI puts on an outstanding program with the National Academy. Every FBI employee I met, from the Special Agents and civilian employees here in California, to the staff at the FBI Academy treated us very well. I am proud to partner with them and look forward to continuing the great relationships we have formed here and in Quantico. There were many positives about the National Academy experience, but the greatest benefit was the relationship building that went on in the classrooms, the dorms, the athletic facilities, and on our weekend trips. I have come home a much richer person thanks to the many friendships I formed during my time away. I met some truly impressive law enforcement professionals from almost every state in the nation and 29 foreign countries. As I suspected, as soon as I drove away from the Academy I started missing my new friends. I learned as much or more from them as from the formal instruction in my classes, and while I may not get to see them as frequently as I would like, I know that we will continue to share our successes and failures as we work on the issues and challenges facing law enforcement over the next decade.

Now that the NA experience is over, I am looking forward to my new challenges and opportunities at the Santa Rosa Police Department. I am very thankful to Chief Schwedhelm for allowing me to attend the NA, and to my co-workers for taking on my workload while I was gone. I found the NA to be an excellent experience on several levels, and appreciate the opportunity I was given. As I wrote in an earlier post, the Santa Rosa Police Department had not sent anyone in over a decade, so one of my goals in attending was to open that door again and represent our department well so that others from Santa Rosa will have to opportunity to attend future sessions. I believe our continued attendance in programs like the National Academy and Command College helps us grow as leaders and better serve our community.
Thanks for reading. I hope my posts have helped others understand the National Academy and my experiences there.
– Captain Craig Schwartz

Lt Craig Schwartz
Lt Craig Schwartz, Santa Rosa Police Department

Captain Schwartz has been posting during his experience at the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. This is his last post.

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