Palo Alto police chief is retiring; plans to run for sheriff

Daily Post Staff Writer

Ahead of a potential run for sheriff, Robert Jonsen plans to retire after four years as Palo Alto’s police chief, City Manager Ed Shikada said today.

Jonsen, 59, hasn’t officially announced he is running for Santa Clara County Sheriff in June, but he filed his paperwork to run on Jan. 11. He didn’t respond to a request for comment yesterday.

Kaloma Smith, the chair of the Human Relations Commission, said at Wednesday’s meeting that his board members will discuss what they want in a new chief. The city will begin a search “in the next month or so,” and the commission will be used as a forum for public feedback, Smith said.

Shikada confirmed Jonsen’s departure yesterday. The two are still discussing a specific date for his retirement, Shikada said.

Shikada, who is in charge of hiring the police chief, didn’t answer a question about whether the city will look internally or search more broadly.

Jonsen, 59, has worked in law enforcement for 35 years, with the last four years as the chief in Palo Alto. He was the chief in Menlo Park from 2013 to 2017, and he spent the bulk of his career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Jonsen made $412,800 in total pay and benefits last year, according to Transparent California.

Jonsen said last week that he thinks a change in leadership is needed at the sheriff’s office. Sheriff Laurie Smith has been in charge since 1998, and she is currently facing multiple investigations into alleged corruption and mishandling mentally ill inmates in the jail.


  1. Laurie Smith has done more evil since the 1980’s. Laurie has done it plaguerized sounds on music artists whom are children. Now it’s clearer to say that Laurie Smith is the worst with Much mocking behaviors of individuals mimicking patterns of wanting money using that pay play.

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