Down to three

Who will sit in the police chief’s chair?



The right Mike:
The city is still looking for the type of chief it had in Mike Dunbaugh, the young, progressive leader who served as chief from 1992 to 1996 before moving on to become the top cop in Santa Rosa. In Dunbaugh’s wake, interim Chief Jim Massie, who became permanent chief when the city’s first choice for the job decided to stay in Lynwood, Wash., held office for a tumultuous couple of years until Mike Efford was hired in 1999.

The field in the search for a new Chico chief of police has been narrowed from six to three: Chico Police Department Capt. Mike Maloney, who is currently serving as interim chief; Capt. Gary Hampton of the Tracy Police Department; and Bruce Hagerty, former commander with the Los Angeles Police Department and current chief of the Ridgecrest Police Department in Kern County.

Mike Efford, hired as chief three years ago, was more or less squeezed out of the job that insiders say was never a good fit for either the city or the man. Efford is now acting chief at Butte Community College.

According to sources in city government, all three candidates are still in the running, but Hampton may be the frontrunner at this point. Conventional wisdom holds that Maloney, the sentimental favorite because he is local, would have been named by now if he were indeed the person for the job.

Hagerty’s past with the LAPD, the CN&R has heard, makes some city officials a bit uneasy. City Manager Tom Lando makes the ultimate decision, which is then approved by the Chico City Council.

The city is currently gathering more background on Hampton and Hagerty, and an announcement is expected the second week of February.

Chico Capt. Mike Maloney has served as a police officer for more than half of his 40 years.

He’s always wanted to be a cop, he said. His father, Bob, was a member of the Highway Patrol before going to law school and eventually becoming the first full-time district attorney Glenn County ever had.

Maloney was born in San Francisco—a fifth-generation San Franciscan—and moved around the state with his father before the family settled in Willows in the mid-1970s, just before Maloney entered high school.

A few years ago, he came across a report card from the second grade that had this note from his teacher: “Even now it is evident that Michael wants to be a police officer when he grows up.”

Two weeks after he graduated from Willows High School, Maloney joined the Willows Police Department on the CETA federal jobs program.

“I spent a year at Willows; the job program was designed to help people get established in a job, help get their foot in the door,” Maloney said.

In 1981 the money for the program dried up, and Maloney went to work for the Glenn County Sheriff’s Office, where he served four years as a deputy sheriff. He came to work in Chico in 1985 and was promoted to captain in 1999.

He said that 10 years ago becoming chief never crossed his mind.

Mike Maloney,

“I’ve really enjoyed a lot of success at the Police Department,” he said. “With that you get a greater ability to influence the service we provide.”

He said he cannot think of anything major he would change in policy at the department. “We have a great department and incredible reputation in the Northstate,” he said. “Of course in the months to come we have to see what’s coming down the pike from Sacramento as far as the state budget goes.”

He said it is a good thing that the police officers’ union has just signed a long-term contract.

“The police chief can support the police officers’ association,” he said, “but whatever happens, there is a natural tendency for there to be some division in the organization during contract talks.

“So I think it’s good for whoever the chief is to have that out of the way and allow for some time to really settle into the job.”

Hampton, 42, said he is in his 21st year of law enforcement, having spent the last 10 years in Tracy and the 10 before that in the Contra Costa County town of Pittsburg.

Hampton, articulate and friendly on the phone, said he is familiar with the Northstate, having spent much of his free time in the last seven or eight years in the Shasta County area, where he and his family have a small place on Lake Shasta.

“I frequent the Chico area fairly often for several reasons,” he said. “I’m an outdoors person.”

He said he and his wife are in search of “quality of life” and that he has two teenage daughters who will be of college age soon. One wants to go to Chico State, the other favors UC Davis.

“My wife and I are not ready to move to Redding and retire just yet,” he explained.

He was born and raised in the city of Antioch and comes from a family of building contractors. He is the only one who’s entered law enforcement, he said.

He’s had law enforcement career aspirations since he was a senior in high school, and at just 19 he joined the Antioch reserve police force.

“I’ve watched my father and grandfather work themselves to death [in the construction trade.],” he said. “I mean it served me well in life, but …”

His boss, Chief Dan Krauss, said he would be sorry to see Hampton go, as did the secretaries who answered the phone when the News & Review called.

Gary Hampton

Krauss, who’s been chief for three years, said the city of Tracy, population 65,643, faces the same sorts of crimes common to many cities in the Central Valley, ranging from gang activity to methamphetamine-related problems to auto theft.

Hampton said that he’s gotten to know the Chico community well, having spent some weekends here recently.

“It seems like a great atmosphere to raise a child; a place where you have many different perspectives coming together,” he said. “The city has overall representation from both conservatives and liberals, and that is attractive to me. Chico should be proud of its political reputation.”

He also reportedly said during a job interview with the city that this year’s high police presence during Halloween in Chico seemed to have been a bit of overkill.

Hampton says that at 42 he is not out simply seeking the title of chief. “I’m looking to the future,” he said. “I’m not looking at this as a stepping stone to a bigger opportunity. There are a lot of chief jobs open right now. But like I say, I’m looking for quality of life.”

Hampton said he will soon finish his master’s degree in organized leadership at St. Mary’s University.

Down in the Kern County town of Ridgecrest, Bruce Hagerty has sat in the police chief’s office since 1999, after 20 years of service with the Los Angeles Police Department, where he rose to the rank of commander.

Hagerty, 54, was born in Butte, Mont., and moved with his family as a child to Long Beach, where his father worked for Douglas Aircraft. The family later moved to Buena Park, where he attended junior and high school. He attended Fullerton Junior College and then joined the National Guard before enrolling at the University of Redlands, where he got his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

During his stint with the LAPD, he said, he served for a while as the public relations officer.

Hagerty said he took the top-cop job in Ridgecrest because he likes the desert and his parents live in nearby Bear Valley. Then came news of the Chico job, he said.

“My wife and I have family there, and we know there are wonderful people there,” he said. “My wife and I feel very comfortable there.”

Hagerty said he and his wife each have three children from previous marriages, including her son, Dr. Scott Hood, a Chico orthodontist.

Ridgecrest is a Navy town of about 25,000 people located right next to the China Lake Naval Weapons Center.

“This is a town of very nice people with a low crime rate, which mostly consists of crimes like assault, bar fights, family fights and ‘opportunity-type thefts.'”

Hagerty says that, from what he’s heard, Chico handled Halloween this year in a logically consistent manner.

“I believe they took the correct approach for Halloween by using the tool of community policing. I think they did a magnificent job. They had good public service announcements, educated the community and reduced the impact."