The subject is chief of police Jim Hyde and the subjects were varied in a typical coffeehouse way as he met informally with a reporter who tried to write it all down. Hyde apologized for being a bit late. Perhaps not a big deal, but it's a small insight, because sometimes important people think they don't have to apologize.
In answer to a question about recent prostitution arrests at massage parlors here, Hyde said, "Circuit girls move up and down the coast from San Diego to Seattle." He added that they advertise on Craigslist, sometimes in the Cars for Sale section.
Prostitution is a misdemeanor, he said, so initially, offenders aren't confined. "They move out of the area before they do jail time." Arrests are made by an undercover officer going to the massage parlor as a customer and the "masseuse" (his fingers put quotation marks around the word as he spoke) makes an offer of a sex act for money. He said the prostitute has to initiate the action, "otherwise, it's
The customer is also committing a crime, but, said Hyde, unless there's some direct evidence, the customer is only a witness. But often, they are remorseful and blurt out that they were here for sex and can be charged. "They say, 'I know I shouldn't be here.'"
Hyde said matter-of-factly that his wife - a sergeant in the Sacramento Police Department - has worked sting operations to nab customers soliciting sex.
Next, the conversation landed on Tasers - a brand name - technically 'electronic stun devices,' a name that won't catch on. "The devices work by disabling the skeletal nervous system."
Hyde comes across as a modern cop who is well informed and converses comfortably and smoothly but is never slippery.
"There have been in-custody deaths," he said about the devices, "but usually it's a case of having drugs on board - meth - cocaine - and the stimulants won't let the heart slow down." Hyde said that Taser has a good record defending itself in legal battles and has won 11 civil lawsuits.
"You don't just hand them out," Hyde said, taking a hit of non-fat de-caf latte, then easily fitting the cup to the saucer. "You put the stun devices in the hands of your most expert personnel."
He talks about scenario-based training - the stun device being an intermediate step - and goes over all the possibilities that a police officer must rapidly consider when force is needed. "Baton - pepper spray - a hold - cuffs - the gun."
This plain-spoken man talking over coffee has a master's degree, is working on his PhD and has a weapon strapped on.
Hyde is Catholic. He sits at a table by a window that makes Zacks a light and airy place and speaks fondly of his uncle, Leo Hyde, who was dean of discipline at St. Ignatius, a Jesuit high school in San Francisco. Former students, Hyde says, tell him that Leo Hyde was tough as nails and the person you went to when you had a problem.
Dean of Discipline Leo Hyde's nephew has experience dealing with the homeless. No quick fixes, no goody-goody stuff but no rough 'em up stuff, either.
He talks about his experience in Sacramento with those he calls the "accidental homeless." These are people who, he says, are three paychecks from the street. He said that sometimes families want them back and the homeless want to go to their families. Hyde said the way to do that is clean them up, get them some decent clean clothes and put them on a bus.
"Forty per cent of the homeless have some mental disorder and they scare the hell out of people." He talks about pairing officers with a mental health specialist.
Hyde said that for homeless with alcohol or other problems, transitional housing can be of use. It wouldn't be necessary to be completely clean and sober to be there, but the abuser must show an effort.
A significant number of the homeless have drug problems, he said, and talks about the polysubstance abusers, mentioning alcohol, Vicodin and methamphetamines.
"Meth is a big problem all over California. If you're staying at a motel, don't use the coffee pot. It could have been used to cook meth."
Now he discusses Deer Valley Plaza's problems with disorderly youth and how they could be charged with loitering. He said a police officer can arrest a person for loitering if he or she has no apparent reason for being in a place, is not there to make a purchase, for example - and has a record of causing problems or intimidating others or is showing gang colors.
Bringing order to Deer Valley Plaza has been a challenge. It will be interesting to see how the Hyde-led department will find innovative and vigorous ways to deal with the problem while operating within the law.
Hyde now commutes from Elk Grove but plans to move to Antioch and live near the Marina "so I can walk to work."
The community has taken to Hyde. At the July 22 Quality of Life Forum, he was introduced as having been on the job two weeks. He pointed to a list of problems somebody had put on a chart and said with a smile, "All those problems have been solved." It was a nice ice-breaker. Later, after he gave a detailed and precise account of what he planned to do on an item, somebody in the audience remarked, "And he's been on the job two weeks."