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Robert Jonsen sworn in as Palo Alto police chief

Ceremony offers brief reprieve after hectic day

Moments after Robert Jonsen took his oath of office Thursday afternoon and was sworn in as Palo Alto's 10th police chief, he quoted British statesman Sir Robert Peel: "The police are the public and the public are the police."

In a ceremony that came less than two hours after the Palo Alto Police Department were investigating a threat at Palo Alto High School later determined to be a "hoax," Jonsen took his oath and addressed a standing-room-only crowd of family, friends, local and county dignitaries and police brass from neighboring jurisdictions.

In referencing the quote from Peel, founder of the London Metropolitan Police Force, Jonsen referred to the critical role residents play in keeping the community safe, a point that was emphasized by the fact that he was sworn in by Annette Glanckopf, a Midtown resident who for decades has been a leader in the city's emergency-preparedness efforts.

"We all have a part to play," Jonsen said. "Public safety is not the responsibility of one individual or one entity. It's a collaborative role and we all have a role to play."

Jonsen, who served as Menlo Park's police chief immediately before coming to Palo Alto (and served in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department before that), told the crowd that he was "excited to be part of a community that takes its role seriously when it comes to public safety." He also called out by name members of the department who grew up in Palo Alto, went to local schools and then made the decision to serve the community.

Assistant City Manager Ed Shikada reflected on the extensive selection process for the position, which featured several interview panels and which he said generated a strong field of candidates. After an interview process that featured several interview panels (one panel was so "high-powered" that it "intimidated some of the candidates." Jonsen, he said, "distinguished himself and rose above the crowd."

"There is no more high-visibility, high-stress directorship than our chief of police," Shikada said. "And we are really pleased that Chief Jonsen has made the decision to join us."

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