Talking with Trostle
Kirk Trostle takes over the Chico Police Department
Chico has a new police chief. Last week Chico City Manager Dave Burkland announced he was appointing Capt. Kirk Trostle (rhymes with “postal”) to the position recently vacated by the retiring Mike Maloney. That appointment was approved by the City Council Tuesday (June 19).
A search for a new chief following Maloney’s announcement last December, generated few qualified candidates, and Trostle was named interim chief in April and agreed to take on the permanent position soon after.
During a brief interview at the June 19 all-day City Council budget meeting, Trostle said that while the job presents a challenge in these tough economic times, he very much likes the city staff and the Chico community.
“It’s a kick in the pants,” said the upbeat and personable new chief. “We have quality staff, and that is what makes the place so wonderful to work for. And then I enjoy the community and the different philosophical ideas we have here. And then you have forums that are created for us to have discussions and creative input. That’s a value to me.”
He said he is looking to serve in the position for a minimum of four years.
Trostle, 48, grew up in Redding, where his father was a business manager and his mother was a medical assistant. He attended Enterprise High School, where he played basketball.
“It’s the Killer Bees, baby,” he said with a mock grin and clenched fist, recalling his time playing for the Enterprise Hornets.
His foray into law enforcement was sparked during his high school years. As far as his family is aware, he is the only member ever to become a cop.
The impetus came at church, where he met a police officer who sparked his interest in the law, he said.
“After a couple ride-alongs and then after I graduated high school, I became a Redding police cadet,” he said. “Having had that experience, I pursued an administrative justice degree at Shasta College and then came to Chico State and got my public administration degree.”
While at Chico State he also enrolled in the Army ROTC and was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the Army Corps of Engineers. From there he was hired as a deputy sheriff by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.
“That is where I started my law enforcement career,” he said. “I served there for about 14 years, including time on the bomb squad and doing patrol and detective work.”
In 1994 Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey hired him away from the sheriff. He made his way up to the rank of an assistant chief in the investigations bureau.
In an April interview Ramsey described Trostle as “very approachable and friendly. He is no pushover, but I have kidded him in the past that as a cop he’d just as soon hug someone as shoot them.”
In 2006, at the age of 42, he became assistant chief of police for the city of Oroville. Two years later he was promoted to chief. Then, in 2010, when former Chico Police Capt. John Rucker became the assistant city manager, Trostle applied for that job.
“I knew there was great opportunity here with the diverse community,” he said. “And this is a larger organization with bigger opportunities for much more experience.”
He and his wife, Patricia, who was recently hired as principal of Chico Country Day School, have lived in Paradise since 1988.
“But most of my time has been spent in either Oroville or Chico,” he said. “Basically I sleep in Paradise, and the rest of my time is spent down here.”
Trostle acknowledged that, in the current economy, the new job could be daunting.
“I think the most significant challenge is the staffing,” he said. “Everybody is affected by that, but when we are looking at one supervisor and six officers, which is minimum staffing per shift, that is a challenge.”
He said that on the night before this interview, starting at about 6:30, the station received a domestic-violence call, followed a few minutes later by a notice of a suicide by hanging, a drunk-in-public call, a fight in downtown and a mental-health call.
“That was all in a matter of 12 to 15 minutes, and all those things happened at once,” he said. “It’s trying to prioritize what it is we deal with—violence first, and then we work our way down.”
Currently the city has 73 officer positions, of which two are vacant because of budget cuts.
“Hopefully as revenues increase we’ll be able to get those two positions funded,” he said with a sense of optimism before returning to the budget meeting.