A cop to the core

Chico’s police chief likes to be where the action is

There’s a lot of street cop left in Mike Maloney. Twice in recent weeks Chico’s police chief has been on the front lines with his patrol officers, chasing bad guys, and in the most recent case actually making the collar.

The first incident cost him an injured leg, but that didn’t seem to stop him.

That was back in August, on a warm weekend night. Maloney was cruising downtown and in the south campus area, just to see what his officers were dealing with. He likes to hit the streets now and then, he said. It keeps things real.

A call came in about a couple of drunks in Coldstone Creamery who were raising hell, abusing the customers and staff. By the time Maloney got there, however, they’d left the scene. Later, he was driving in the vicinity of the Madison Bear Garden when he saw a man in the middle of the intersection, clearly drunk, shouting obscenities, throwing crude gestures at passersby and being as obnoxious as a person can be. He fit the description of one of the men in the creamery.

Maloney parked his car and approached the man, who turned and ran. Maloney sprinted after him, though “sprinted” may not be the most accurate word to describe it. In any event, the perp dashed into the parking structure at Third and Salem. Maloney followed him, still running, but when his foot hit the curb, he felt his leg go out.

Diagosis: severed Achilles tendon. He was in a cast and, later, a plastic boot for several weeks.

The more recent incident happened on the morning of Nov. 30. Maloney was driving to work when a call came through about a home invasion in the posh Canyon Oaks subdivision on the eastern edge of Chico. “I knew we wouldn’t have units close, so I decided to go myself,” Maloney said.

The victim, university Vice President Rick Ellison, had been accosted in his garage and threatened with a knife and handgun before escaping.

Maloney couldn’t find the house. He ended up “out in the middle of nowhere,” in an area with no houses, when he spied a guy walking along who was wearing a white shirt and carrying a black jacket. The suspect had been described as dressed all in black. It was cold that morning. Anybody who wasn’t trying to disguise himself would have been wearing the jacket.

Maloney called in another unit. He waited, and then he and the other unit swooped in together and, guns drawn, nabbed the suspect. Ellison then made a positive ID of the man, who was found to be in possession of some of Ellison’s belongings.

Maloney was self-effacing about the incidents. It’s just that, once a cop, always a cop, he suggested. “I was a cop before I was a sergeant, before I was a lieutenant or a captain or a chief,” he said. “That’s who I am at my core.”