Search for new police chief likely to take several months, officials say
Truckee will soon start the search for a new police chief, as Rob Leftwich has announced he will retire from the post effective July 3.
The chief’s announcement was made two days after a June 9 Truckee town hall discussion on systemic racism, which itself was hosted by the town of Truckee on the heels of a June 2 vigil memorializing black victims of police brutality and a controversial email from Leftwich to Truckee staff on the death of George Floyd that drew public criticism.
The Truckee Police Department on June 11 posted news of Leftwich’s decision to retire on its Facebook page.
“(Leftwich) began with the Truckee Police Department in August of 2010 as a sergeant,” Truckee Police Department’s post states. “He moved up through the ranks, and was promoted to Chief of Police in January 2016. He has had an extensive career, not only during his time in Truckee, but also in his twenty-plus years serving multiple California municipal police departments.
“We thank him for his service and wish him a wonderful retirement and all the best,” it continues.
Leftwich couldn’t be reached for comment.
Truckee Mayor David Polivy said Leftwich’s announced retirement should not be considered as connected to the community forum or the controversy surrounding the chief’s comments.
“The Town Hall was an important step to opening dialog, receiving community input, and to weigh in on a complex issue,” Polivy said in an email. “We heard and read the many passionate comments of support for both Chief and his department, and this announcement should not be seen as a reaction to the Town Hall, the controversy around his email, or a reflection of the Council’s views.”
“We want to acknowledge our support for Chief Leftwich and the work he has done not only during his time in Truckee, but in his over twenty years’ experience serving in municipal California police departments,” added Polivy.
The mayor pointed to a number of examples supporting the work the chief has done while in Truckee, including playing a key role in leading the town through the COVID-19 pandemic; advocating for the “Safe Place for All” resolution; and being on the board of directors for Tahoe SAFE Alliance.
“There, he was an outspoken advocate for ending violence for all,” said Polivy. “His personal stories of domestic violence, particularly in minority communities, compelled huge donations to help care for those in crisis, and to support prevention.”
Kim Szczurek, administrative services director, said a new chief will be selected by the town manager, who hires all department heads for Truckee.
There will be a recruitment process that will involve extensive advertising and outreach, and will most likely take up to about five months until someone is on board, Szczurek said, adding that Capt. Randy Billingsley will be acting chief in the interim period.
“I am highly confident that the leaders we have at all levels in the department will steer a smooth transition and continue to serve the community as devotedly as they have,” Polivy said. “The community should expect to hear from town management in the near future regarding the recruitment process for your new chief of police, and welcome Captain Billingsley in the interim.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643.
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