Name: Pete Dunbar
Hometown: San Ramon
Profession: Chief of Police, Pleasant Hill
“Hello, my name is Pete Dunbar, and my vision for California – from a public safety perspective – is that people can feel safe and be safe.”
As long as he can remember, Dunbar has wanted to be a police officer. Born and raised in Oakland, he viewed law enforcement as “a position of honor and respect.” And, the job reflected what his parents taught him: “the whole idea of helping people.”
Before joining the police force, he earned a bachelor's degree in commerce at the University of Santa Clara and a master's degree in education from San Diego State University. Then, he worked 24 years for the Oakland Police Department, rising to the rank of captain, before being named police chief of Pleasant Hill in 2006.
When asked about frequent gridlock in state government, he said political parties need to be more willing to compromise. Dunbar knows that money – and the competition for shrinking funds – makes serving the public a challenge in California.
But Dunbar supports ideas that to move the state in the right direction. For example, he believes that California's realignment program (shifting responsibility for certain low-level and non-violent offenders from state prisons to county jails) will lead to real changes. The plan involves rehabilitation as a path to breaking the cycle of incarceration.
“We can't just keep arresting ourselves out these situations,” Dunbar said. “Continuing the same old thing doesn't get us anywhere. This is a gradual process. It's going to take time for us to see transformational change. Hopefully, over time, we'll have made a difference.”
Dunbar said the state's diversity, in its people and professions, is an area of strength. And, personal responsibility and the spirit of volunteerism will make California even stronger.
Many people are working two or three jobs to stay afloat but Dunbar hopes people take time during lunch hours, after work or on weekends to mentor, counsel, participate in community cleanups and assist in other efforts.