Stepping back from the beat

Linda McKinnon

PHOTO courtesy of Chico police department

Retiring Chico Police Officer Linda McKinnon looks back fondly on her 26 years with the Chico Police Department. “It’s not all negative, like people think,” she said of working the patrol beat. “You get the opportunity to meet some wonderful people, and to work with outstanding professionals like we have in the Chico Police Department.” McKinnon was born in Southern California, and worked as a reserve officer for the police departments in Red Bluff and Desert Hot Springs in the 1980s. During that time she also gained experience as an ambulance attendant. In 1984 she entered the Butte College Police Academy, and was hired by Chico police in 1986. The 51-year-old McKinnon is married to Chico Police Sgt. Ted McKinnon. She retires Dec. 31, but will be staying on with the department as a volunteer reserve officer.

What do you think when you reflect on your career?

It’s been very rewarding. You have to face difficulties and challenges every day, but it’s a privilege to work with the incredible people in the department. Those people work their butts off, and the department as a whole does so much with so little funding. With the new administration, there’s nothing but up from here. I’m a little sad to be leaving full time. But it’s best to leave the jumping over fences and chasing down bad guys to the younger ones. And I’ll stay on the Hostage Negotiation Team, because I really enjoy it.

What does the Hostage Negotiation Team do?

It’s a volunteer position with a team of 10. We respond to critical incidents, like barricaded subjects or hostage takers. We have specialized equipment and training in communication skills in those situations. More often than not, we respond with a SWAT team. We try to resolve the situation peacefully. I’m also on the Crisis Intervention Team with Butte County Mental Health.

What’s the most unusual incident you faced?

There have been so many over the years. One that got on Inside Edition was the Canadian goose that held a woman hostage in her own home, three or four years ago. The goose was at her front door attacking people on the sidewalk, and attacking her dog. I’m the officer who showed up and took the goose into custody. It was just such a weird event. Some incidents are rewarding, some are extra-scary—they’re all over the scale. This was unusual because it was made into such a big deal, when it was really not.