Minuteman, March 2019
Following lunch, President Tim Ernst called upon Chief of Police Michael Carroll to introduce Commander Dale Amaral. He said Dale Amaral was an icon in law enforcement, and a personal role model. Chief Carroll met him at Chabot College, when he took a class taught by Amaral. Amaral made law enforcement sound like the best job in the world, and Carroll determined to pursue it as a career. Five years later, when Carroll took the test for the Newark Police Department, Amaral told him that he remembered him from class, and thought he would make a great police officer. Carroll said that Amaral was the most approachable boss he ever had, and he would not have missed being here to honor Amaral for the world. In his 53-year career, Amaral has had a huge impact on law enforcement.
Carroll worked with Amaral for ten years, and when Amaral left the Newark Police Department for the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, he told Carroll to skip promotions once he attained the rank of sergeant, which Amaral believed was the best job in law enforcement. Carroll did not take the advice, and was now a police chief. Amaral became a sergeant with the Sheriff’s Office, but was promoted after two years – he does his job for the organization, not for his personal enjoyment. Amaral cares about the community that he serves, and uses his own money to help people in need; he taught Carroll that relationships were very important in law enforcement. Carroll said that Amaral had more energy than he has, and was a living example of a great police officer.
President Ernst called upon California Society President Derek Brown to present the SAR Law Enforcement Commendation Medal to Commander Dale Amaral. He noted that the award would be reported to the National Society, and published at the upcoming SAR Annual Congress in Costa Mesa, California, in July 2019. Commander Amaral thanked the chapter for the prestigious award. He noted that the award had been presented to his boss, Sheriff Gregory J. Ahern, and the late Sheriff Charles C. Plummer, who had promoted Amaral from Sergeant to Captain. Amaral said he was very grateful for organizations such as the Sons of the American Revolution, which support law enforcement. These days, law enforcement is getting bad press, and every action is under a microscope. He said he does not mind transparency, but people must understand all the facts before jumping to conclusions. The police are the Thin Blue Line, and law-abiding citizens are right behind the police. Amaral said he took an oath to defend the US and California constitutions, and he noted that the SAR supports both constitutions. Amaral said he was currently assigned to the Management Services Division, and was in charge of the division’s $444 million budget. The division has a training facility, photographers, K-9 unit, and other support services. He said law enforcement is a team sport – he has three captains and managers who make him look good.
Commander Amaral said he wanted to be a police officer, but he had to wait until he was 21 years old, so he took police science at San Jose City College. He had a great instructor, and he was made a member of the campus police force. In addition to his training at the college, he did ride-alongs with the Fremont Police Department. When he finally turned 21, he joined the Newark Police Department. His cousin, Rodney Henderson, was killed in the line of duty in 1968 in a head-on traffic collision — this tragic event had a lasting impact on Amaral. In the last three years, Amaral has been working on creating police and fire memorials. At the training center, there is a memorial for every law enforcement officer killed in Alameda County from 1854 to the present. Each cadet is expected to take a name off the wall and invite the family to a 5K run to honor the fallen officer. He said it was very important not to forget the fallen heroes.
In 1966, Amaral took the test to join the Newark Police Department with 300 people. He finished number one, and was offered a position. He was a 21-year old campus police officer student, who did not have formal police academy training – most of his training was on the job experience. When he joined the Newark Police Department, the big crime problem at that time was drugs (LSD, and Meth) and violent Vietnam War protests. He said anti-war protests were the most frightening experience an officer could have, short of being under fire. When large crowds of angry people charge the police line consisting of a few officers, it is hard to overcome the natural instinct to run. In a People’s Park protest in Berkeley, he spent the day tossing tear gas canisters at the rioters. They were hot, so the rioters would use baseball bats to hit the canisters back to the police. Even though he wore a gas mask, his clothes were covered with tear gas. When he returned to the station, he was hosed off by a sergeant. He dropped off his clothes at a laundromat, and when they found a dangerous chemical on the clothes, they called the fire department. He quickly became the most unpopular police officer. Now when he has to discipline young police officers, he reflects that he has done stupid things too, and he tried to be sympathetic.
In 1966, the Earl Warren Court delivered the landmark Miranda Decision, which made statements inadmissible unless the suspect was first informed of his right to remain silent and his right to an attorney. Commander Amaral said this decision made police officers more professional. He said today the drug problem is far worse than any other time in his 53-year career. He said, on average, 130 people die every day from opioid overdoses. He said fentanyl is 50 time more powerful than heroin, and kills addicts, and officers who come in contact with it. It causes the suppression of the respiratory system. He knew of a case where two detectives got it on their skin, and they went down. Fortunately, they were given NARCAN (naloxone) spray in the nostrils, and they were revived. The police now have to carry NARCAN to save the lives of addicts and officers. The major source of fentanyl is China, and President Trump is trying to get China to add fentanyl to its list of illegal drugs, but it generates a lot of profits for China. Amaral said protests have not changed since the 1960’s. Recently, he was helping the Oakland Police Department monitor protestors marching down the street looting stores along the way. They were headed towards the police headquarters, so Amaral warned them they needed to stop the rioters. No action was taken, and the rioters set fire to the police cars outside the headquarters.
Commander Amaral said the increasing problem with drugs and crime was due to the decriminalization movement. The misnamed “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act” reclassified many theft and drug possession crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. Felony theft was raised to over $950. The consequences have been the big box stores are now being looted. Target lost $1 billion to shoplifting. The criminals merely stuff the misdemeanor citations in their pockets and ignore them. There are now 1,500 less inmates at the Santa Rita Jail – meaning 1,500 more criminals are now on the streets victimizing the community. Amaral has no problem with working to reduce the number of inmates in the jails, but they need programs to address their drug problems and psychological problems. Currently, the criminals are released to prey upon the community. Judges used to be able to use treatment as an alternative to incarceration, but now they are just releasing the criminals back into society to commit more crimes. Amaral recently took BART to San Francisco, and once he left the station, he was shocked that there were needles everywhere, and addicts shooting up drugs openly – he has never seen things as bad as they are now. Criminals are breaking tens of thousands of windows to steal because it is now just a misdemeanor offense.
Commander Amaral said the police are trying to make things better. Sheriff Ahern loves problem-solving, and has started many crime prevention programs in Alameda County – neighborhood watch, identification of property, juvenile athletic programs, and a cadet program for young adults 18-21 years old. With the media assault on law enforcement, it is very difficult to hire people willing to put their lives under a microscope. A group of 250 chiefs was asked if they would recommend law enforcement for their own children, and only 11 said they would. Amaral said his nephew wanted to be a fireman because everyone loves firemen. The cadet program for young adults ages 18-21 fills in the gap between the police explorers (ages 14-17), and age 21 where a person can join the police force. They recruit the cadets from high crime areas where they need law enforcement to protect the community. It can be a challenge as many have no driver’s license, no car, and bad study skills. They have classes for them since they need nine units of college credit. Commander Amaral ended his talk by thanking the chapter for its support of law enforcement. He said this was the most valuable award he has received. The chapter gave him a standing ovation.