After a week on the job, new Danville Police Chief Allan Shields is set to be formally introduced to the community in his new role at the Town Council meeting next Tuesday.
Shields, who is the sixth police chief since Danville incorporated in 1982, succeeds Steve Simpkins who returned to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office to fulfill his duties as captain after seven years in Danville.
"He has a vested interest in Danville," Mayor Renee Morgan said of Shields. "He is involved in our town. His children go to school here. His past contributions to the town of Danville are all attributes he brings to the job."
Shields feels a strong connection to Danville, as both a resident and as a police officer.
"My dad actually worked in Danville back in the late '80s," he said. "So as a 12-year-old, I was running around the police department; I was aware of Danville."
He moved to the town almost 14 years ago, after his first son was born, but first came as a police officer in Danville in 2009 as a sergeant. The town of Danville contracts with the sheriff's office for its police force, so all of the town's police officers are technically county employees -- Shields has "bounced around" Contra Costa as a sheriff's deputy for 18 years now, he said.
After his initial tenure in the town, Shields returned to the county to work in internal affairs before being sent again to Danville in 2013, this time as a lieutenant. For the past 3-1/2 years, he served as Simpkins' second-in-command in the Danville Police Department.
He said his strongest impression of Danville has been that of the community coming together to help DPD with policing.
"There was a child that had autism and he went missing," Shields recalled. "We put it out on NextDoor, Facebook, Twitter, Nixle. I go into the house, I get the information to put out, I give it to our public information officer, Geoff Gillette, he puts it out on social media. I continue talking with the family. By the time I get out of the house, there are tons of people out, looking for this child. And the information spread out so much that we found him within 10 minutes."
Shields said he hopes to continue Simpkins' legacy, and to continue building relationships with community members -- something he feels has been a strength of the police department, even when the national perception of law enforcement is shaky.
"It's that pennies in the bank theory," Shields said. "If we, thanks to Steve's leadership, if we didn't invest early in building and maintaining that relationship, then maybe that might bring some questions. Maybe people might think, 'I wonder if our cops are like that.' But you don't say that about your friend."
Shields found out about his selection as chief around a month ago, after returning from the 10-week-long FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va.
He was selected, according to Town Manager Joe Calabrigo, for his strong leadership skills, conscientiousness, extensive experience and tech savvy in an increasingly technological field.
"More than anything," Calabrigo added, "he loves law enforcement and he loves to work with people."