Lincoln Police Chief could be hired soon

Four finalists introduced to residents
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
-A +A

A second recruitment for the position of Lincoln Police Chief ended Dec. 8 with four finalists meeting with residents and city staff.

The four finalists are Aaron Easton, chief of the Marysville Police Department; Gary Hendricks, a captain with the Buena Park Police Department; Doug Lee, former chief deputy with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office and currently the chief deputy of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services; and Steven Shea, chief civil deputy of the Clark County, Washington, Sheriff’s Office.

Lincoln City Manager Matt Brower said he expected to make a decision this week but would not announce the hiring until the candidate selected has passed a background check. Brower said Monday that could take as long as three weeks.

Easton, who was appointed Marysville Police Department chief in 2014 after four years with the department and previously working for the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, said he was not looking to leave his position.

“I’ve always liked Lincoln and I’ve been in the region a long time,” Easton said. “I studied and researched Lincoln and there are a lot of things I love: family environment, rich history and culture and the residents.”

Easton said he loves Marysville but it has remained largely the same since 1851.

“In less than two decades, Lincoln has grown bigger than Marysville and maintained its culture, history and family environment,” Easton said. “All of the things I love about my job I see here.”

“Lincoln has a sustainable growth plan and infrastructure; public safety is not just the police department,” Easton added. “Lincoln can really be a gem for the region and state for law enforcement in the 21st century.”

Although Marysville has a smaller population than Lincoln, nearly 13,000 compared to nearly 46,000, it has close to the same number of officers; 19 in Marysville and 21 in Lincoln. However, the Marysville Police Department has 60 employees.

And, Easton said, Marysville had 200 more 9-1-1 calls last year than Lincoln.

“There is much higher crime per capita in Marysville. Workloads for officers of the two departments are similar, extremely high,” Easton said. “We’ve found creative ways to not miss out on smaller crimes. For example, police volunteers do parking tickets.”

“All of us have to be involved to keep the community safe, it’s incumbent on everybody,” Easton added. “If you give people responsibility and trust, they really step up.”

When meeting with Lincoln Peace Officers Association members, Easton said, he could tell morale might be an issue.

“When I met with them, it was palpable they were looking for advocacy, trust and consistent leadership,” Easton said. “I can’t tell them anything to make them trust me; it takes actions.”

“I get my desk work done between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m.; you can’t shortchange your time with the officers,” Easton added.

Hendricks, a former founding member of the Citrus Heights Police Department, previously lived in Roseville and said Lincoln’s small-town atmosphere is attractive. He added that likely helps retain officers.

“The employee retention rate is high; something’s keeping them here,” said Hendricks, who joined the Buena Park Police Department nearly four years ago. “It’s unheard of in law enforcement to have that high a retention rate.”

Hendricks said he has worked in every phase of law enforcement, including detectives, Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.), the canine unity, investigations, administration and internal affairs.

“I have a depth of police experience and two degrees,” Hendricks said. “I’ve attended all of the executive command schools and P.O.S.T. (Peace Officer Standards and Training). I can’t take anymore.”

Hendricks said he is aware of Lincoln’s number of police officers.

“Gone are the days when you had one officer per 1,000 residents,” Hendricks said. “It’s not about sworn officers anymore. It’s about employees, including support staff and part-timers, and creative staffing.”

Lee, who had more than 30 years with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office,  said, if hired, he would first sit down with the city manager and learn the city’s direction, vision and areas of improvement. He said he was impressed with the thorough interview process.

“It’s a recipe for disaster to come in and make immediate changes,” Lee said. “You have to meet people in the community and make yourself visible and accessible. I’m very approachable.”

Lee added it’s important to make sure the resources available are being used effectively.

“The department is adding two officers and that’s a good sign,” Lee said. “It seems the city leadership is cautious with the growth of the department.”

While with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Office, Lee oversaw several teams, including the airport.

“It was like a small police department at the airport,” Lee said. “My experience helps me see the big picture.”

Shea, the only out-of-state finalist this time, described Lincoln as a beautiful town with very nice people.

“I have 31 years with the Sheriff’s Office and I don’t want to retire,” Shea said. “I’m not tired of being a cop.”

Although he is currently the chief civil deputy, Shea said he previously served as commander of a precinct that was about the size of the Lincoln Police Department. When promoted to sergeant, Shea added, he “supervised patrol for a year and then worked in case management, as the public information officer and as a training officer.”

“I spent five to six years as a sergeant and I had no supervisory experience,” Shea said. “So I went back to patrol, for eight years, to learn how to be a supervisor and leader. I was then promoted to commander.”

“I love being chief civil deputy but it’s not being a cop,” Shea said. “It’s behind-the-scenes work, records, evidence and serving papers.”