Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Resigns, Gives Two Weeks’ Notice

After three-and-a-half years as chief of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, Peter Decena has resigned. The town announced his two-week notice in a press release sent out after 5pm on Friday, Sept. 3.

“Los Gatos-Monte Sereno (LGMS) Police Chief Peter Decena submitted his resignation, effective September 16, 2021. Chief Decena served the Town with distinction. An Interim Police Chief will be announced in the near future and there will be a recruitment for a new Chief,” the town’s statement read.

Decena had been working with the town to implement police reforms, including work with de-escalation, inherent bias and compassion training. In April, he recorded a video calling for the public’s help in identifying the attacker of a health care worker of Asian descent in what was described as a hate crime.

Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Chief Peter Decena resigns. Town of Los Gatos Photo.

Decena served as chief of the San Jose State University Police Department for eight years prior to his hiring by LGMS in April 2018.

A year after Decena’s hiring by LGMS, controversy ensued over the use of excessive force by officer Johnathon Silva, who was hired September 24, 2018. Silva had worked under him as a San Jose State officer while Decena was chief.

Silva was cleared of misconduct in subduing 57-year-old James Russell Newlon on Town Terrace with a carotid hold. Chief Decena expressed reluctance to ban the carotid artery hold but changed internal policy to allow its use only when absolutely necessary. California subsequently voted to outlaw the sometimes lethal practice, and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law.

Silva resigned in 2019 after it came to light that while an officer at San Jose State, he had been fired for the violent beating of a mentally ill library patron. Silva was reinstated after he appealed the termination.

Silva this year sued Los Gatos for wrongful termination, contending the town knew of the San Jose library beating before it hired him.

The Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department budget employs 39 sworn officers and 22 civilians, patrols 13.1 square miles and represents 36.7% of town’s budget, according to statistics released by the town.

“I am confident in the department to continue our community policing values during this leadership transition,”  Mayor Marico Sayoc said in the town’s statement.

Decena’s position paid $329,834 in salary and benefits in 2019, according to Transparent California.

In an interview with the Los Gatan, Sayoc said Decena helped the police department navigate the “troubled waters” of the last couple years.

“Definitely the past two years have been tumultuous, as it has been across the country with protests, Asian anti-hate (activism), and a lot of social justice issues,” she said. “When people resign we just wish them well in their future endeavors.”


  1. Good to see San Jose Inside report on this far better than the stenographic press release recital done by the San Jose Mercury. Yes, the issues related to Silva were important, butstory omitted the issue of an April 2019 excessive force case where the vicitm may have been too ill or too poor to sue. That will make Silva’s lawsuit tough for him to advance, IMO . Also the issues relaed to PredPol contracts under DeCena and the issues related to Los Gatos High sexual abuse claims the LG police ignored land on DeCena. As does the culture of retaltion and failures when it comes to residents dealing with domestic violence. Officer Hoyt is a classic example and until and unless we get a Chief willing to address the culture, the resignation will do nothing for local residents and businesses. Tack on that the LG police could have used the CHP to investigate the Blossom Hill Road murder of Mr. Starkey by former San Jose political canidate Jennifer Higgins Bradanini, and those are the main issues hiding in the resignation. The Town was hiring an auditor. The Town was going to start looking and DeCena decided to get out of the way, likely knowing what they would find now that Vice Mayor Barbara Spector wasn’t around to plug up the holes.

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