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New police force begins training

Erich Sommer, Sierra Sun

Though full operations don’t begin until Sept. 1, officers with the Truckee Police Department started training this week, with sessions ranging from informal conversations to lectures on police ethics.

Several officials with the Town of Truckee and the police department spoke enthusiastically about the unique opportunity of building a department, and a town staff, from scratch.

“I’m excited. This is the chance of a lifetime,” said Truckee Police Department Commander Scott Berry.

Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook, who spoke to the department Monday afternoon, talked about his own experiences as one of the Town’s first employees after it incorporated and what it was like to build the Community Development Department.

“It’s been everything I thought it would be and much more. (The Police Department) has the same opportunity,” he told the officers.

“It’s a homecoming for me,” said Officer Jason Litchie, who also grew up in Truckee and has worked with Nevada County Sheriff’s Office for the past four years.

On Monday, after a morning of paperwork, measurements for new uniforms, and a barbecue lunch, 15 officers, two sergeants, Commander Scott Berry and Police Chief Dan Boon heard from Town Manager Stephen L. Wright.

“We are very, very glad you are here,” Wright said. “It’s (required) a lot of details coming together to get to this day.”

Wright presented the police department with a broad overview of the town and some of the events that led to Truckee’s incorporation eight years ago.

He also went over the Town’s expectations for police, which include: officers who are visibly involved and participating in the community, accept individual responsibility and employees who demonstrate a “can-do attitude.”

Wright said all of the staff at Town Hall is expected to meet this same criteria and that the town puts a premium on communication and collaboration.

Chief Boon said he hopes to extend that spirit of cooperation across municipal lines.

Boon said he envisioned dispatching, jail services and even “briefings that would include (Nevada County, Placer County and local) officers in different colored uniforms acting as a team.”

Wright told the officers it was his desire to “keep politics out of your business,” but also encouraged officers to exercise good judgment at all times.

“Whether it’s on-duty or off-duty, don’t do anything that will bring discredit to the town,” he said. “We don’t like surprises.”

When asked by one of the officers what he saw as possible pitfalls for the new police department, Wright said “I think there are more opportunities than pitfalls.”

“We are going to be more visible than any other department,” Chief Boon told the officers.

The police department will also be the most expensive of all town operations, with $4.9 million allotted to them this year.

“The police department budget is the single biggest item in the (town’s) budget,” Wright pointed out.

Once hiring is completed, the department will include 18 officers, five sergeants, Commander Berry and Chief Boon.

Currently, the roster includes officers from Tule Lake on the Oregon border to Palm Springs.

Five officers – Jason Litchie, Claudio Gasbarri, Russell Walsh, Don Garrett, Rick Christenson – and one sergeant,Tim Hargrove, transferred from Nevada County Sheriff’s Office to Truckee Police Department.

“We got quality and we got experience, from 2 to 20 years,” Berry said as the other officers spent over two hours in small groups talking about family, hobbies and what brought them to Truckee. “We wanted to have a mix of youth and seasoned officers. “


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