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Commander takes over for chief

Jim Scripps, Sierra Sun
Truckee police cmdr. Scott Berry
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Truckee’s newest police chief is an old friend – in terms of Truckee Police Department history.

Picked from pool of 20 candidates, local favorite Cmdr. Scott Berry, will take over the top spot in the department on Dec. 20 following the retirement of Truckee Police Chief Dan Boon.

Although the department is less than three years old, Berry is the senior office – the second hire during the department’s creation. He will take over a staff of 25 sworn officers, 5 non-sworn officers, and an operating budget of $4.1 million a year.

“It was my intention from the get go that I would apply to be the chief when Dan retired,” Berry said this week.

Berry brings almost 30 years of policing experience to the job, including a stint as division commander when he was a captain with the Yuba City Police Department. He holds a master’s degree in management, and has also received training at the FBI National Academy, U.S. Military Leadership Institute and the California POST Command College.

“I have a passion and a love for my profession, and I intend to stay here,” he said.

Berry will be paid “somewhere in the middle,” between $86,400-$116,676, the salary range for the Town of Truckee position, said town manager Steve Wright. Berry said the salary represents an approximately 5 percent raise from his current pay.

Wright’s decision to hire Berry came after an interview process that included a panel with a visiting town manager and two area police chiefs with Truckee Mayor Ted Owens sitting in. The final six applicants interviewed in front of the panel last week. Although applicants for the position included “the cream of the crop” in policing, Wright said Berry’s best qualification is local knowledge. No other local officers applied for the position.

“It’s the fact that he has helped create and build the department; his community involvement and his enthusiasm for the job,” Wright said.

“It was really Dan (Boon) and Scott that hired the department, and the whole concept of community oriented policing has been carried through as the council originally intended.”

Owens shared the same impressions.

“(Berry) has just embraced the community,” he said. “We would not have found that with the other applicants.

“You can’t mask Scott Berry’s enthusiasm for his job, his community, and his commitment to be here.”

Berry said continuing that interaction will be paramount when he takes office.

“We are still getting our feet wet,” he said. “We still have a long way to go to help people understand what we do.”

Part of the effort will be dedicated to continuing some programs Berry has already been involved with, including the citizens’ police academy, the new police explorers program (the first meeting is this week), and public forums, several of which were held in spring.

Even during his short tenure as a Truckee resident, Berry has shown an enthusiasm for community activism. He is a member of Truckee’s Sunrise Rotary Club, and recently helped lead a group of teens with Tahoe Forest Church on a mission to build homes in Mexico, a project he has been involved with for years.

Hiring in the department will become a bigger part of Berry’s duties when he becomes chief. With Boon leaving, the department will be looking to fill four vacancies. So far the candidate pool has been deep.

“We have more people (interested in working for the department) than we have ever had,” Berry said. The department is currently in the process of interviewing a dozen officers who would be moving laterally if hired in Truckee, as well as 10-12 applicants new to policing. “We’re focusing on people who want to come here and stay here.”

Like many of Truckee’s employers, the police department has to contend with the high cost of living, while appealing to strong candidates. But Truckee is not a hard sell, Berry says.

The challenge is “pay scale versus cost of living,” he said. “We pitch the quality of life and we pitch Truckee over other communities. We try to show them the alternatives.”

It doesn’t hurt that Truckee’s police department places a premium on technology and training, attractive qualities to new hires, and veteran officers from under-equipped departments.

Although he doesn’t anticipate major changes in the department for the foreseeable future, Berry said he and Chief Boon will be discussing whether to fill the commander position in its current form or make changes to the chain of command. Changes in hiring classification would have to be sent to the Truckee Town Council for approval.

Truckee’s decision to form its own police department came after a 1998 study the town conducted. Boon was the department’s first hire in January, 2001. Previous to 2001, Truckee contracted with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Department. The Town of Truckee incorporated in 1993.


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