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Chico Police Chief announces changes throughout the department

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CHICO, Calif. - Chico Police Chief Michael O'Brien introduced his new command staff Thursday which is made up of law enforcement veterans that are now charged with managing the police department and addressing the many public safety needs of a growing and increasingly diverse Chico. Chief O'Brien also announced other changes that will be happening throughout the department.

"The shifting of police resources, scarce police resources to areas in our community is extremely, extremely important and critical in this day and age," said Chief O'Brien.

The department said one crucial aspect of a successful community policing model, is the establishment of a strong leadership team comprised of individuals who understand and care about their community.

Matt Madden, a 24-year law enforcement veteran has been promoted to Deputy Chief, effective March 5, 2017. Deputy Chief Madden joined the Chico Police Department in 1997. He has served as a member and team leader of the SWAT team, spent several years with the Detective Bureau, supervised the Street Crimes/Gang Unit, School Resource and Field Training Officers and as a lieutenant served as Water Commander for the department's weekend patrol teams. Lieutenant Ted McKinnon leads the Investigations Division. Lt. McKinnon joined the Chico Police Department in 1996, having previously served in the United States Marine Corps. He began his law enforcement career as a member of the Paradise Police Department. A Paradise native, Lt. McKinnon took the helm of the Detective Bureau at the beginning of 2017 after having spent the past three years serving as Patrol Watch Commander. Lieutenant Billy Aldridge serves as the Watch Commander for the Patrol Division (West). Lt. Aldridge joined the Chico Police Department in 2005 bringing several years of law-enforcement experience with him, having previously served with the Butte County Sheriff's Office. His experience within the Chico Police Department includes time as a Crime Scene Investigator, Professional Standards Sergeant, Field Training Officer and Use of Force Instructor. Lieutenant Greg Keeney now leads the Administration Division. He was promoted to the leadership role of Lieutenant in January, 2017. Lt. Keeney joined the Chico Police Department in January 1996. His experience within the department includes time as a Crime Scene Investigator, Detective and a Patrol and Gang Sergeant. Lieutenant Scott Zuschin will serve as the Watch Commander for the Patrol Division (East). A 12-year veteran of the Chico Police Department, Lt. Zuschin joined the department in 2005 and was promoted to Lieutenant in April 2017. Lt. Zuschin says he is committed to serving the community he calls home. He began his law enforcement career with Del Norte County Sheriff's Office. He spent two years with the Butte County Sheriff's Office before joining the Chico Police Department. His assignments have included Field Training Officer, Patrol Supervisor and TARGET Team Supervisor. Lieutenant Mike Rodden joined the Chico Police Department in 2006. In his new role, he will lead the Patrol Division (Central), the TARGET Team and Traffic Division. A Salinas, California native, Lt. Rodden considers Chico his adopted home. He began his law enforcement career in 2002 with the Salinas Police Department. During his tenure with the Chico Police Department, his duties have included serving as Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Gang Detective and Gang Unit Sergeant. The Chico Animal Shelter, a division of the Chico Police Department, is led by Animal Services Manager Tracy Mohr. Mohr has devoted her services to the City of Chico first as an Animal Control Officer from 2002 until 2004. She rejoined the City in 2012, serving as Animal Services Manager. Mohr oversees staffing and the day-to-day operations pertaining to the rescue, housing, care and adoption of hundreds of animals per year. Julia Yarbough will now serve as Press Information Officer overseeing Media Relations. Yarbough, a California native, joined the Chico Police Department in February 2017. An Emmy award-winning News Anchor and Reporter, Yarbough spent 22-years covering news in major markets including Los Angeles (KCBS) and Miami (WTVJ). Yarbough previously worked with the City of Miami Beach and Miami Beach Police Department producing video and print media materials. O'Brien said that with the increase in the flow of news and information, the Chico Police Department recognizes the importance of connecting to the public quickly.

Deputy Chief Mike Madden said he is excited to work as a team in his new role, both with his officers and other community members in Butte County. "There's something special about being able to accomplish something that's greater than you could ever accomplish by yourself," said Deputy Chief Madden.

The Chico Police Department is also saying goodbye to a long-time member. 36-year veteran Communications/Records Manager Nancy Wilson will retire this summer. Wilson joined the Chico Police Department in June of 1981. She has overseen the development of several communications systems for police officers and dispatch operators; most recently the implementation of the new CAD/RMS system currently being used. Wilson has been named Employee of the Month numerous times as well as being recognized as the 2008 Civilian Employee of the Year. In 2008 she was promoted to Communications/Records Manager.

The new command staff will be in charge of carrying out several new initiatives and policing programs set to begin in the coming weeks and months. One of which is the implementation of a new Bicycle Patrol unit set to hit the streets Thursday, June 1, 2017.

"When we don't have the students in town, we're shifting [the Thursday, Friday and Saturday shift] to be bicycle patrol, downtown patrol, motorcycle patrol," said Officer Tony Ferreira, newest addition of the bike team. "That way we can really attack some quality of life crimes that we're having downtown and around the park."

As part of the TARGET Team, the four-member Bicycle Patrol unit will focus on the Downtown and the One Mile areas. Officers will be out on bikes Thursday, Friday and Saturday during rotating shifts.

"The shifting of police resources to meet the needs of the community specifically in our downtown and parks is always critically important," said Police Chief Michael O'Brien. "Ensuring our public spaces are safe for all to use is a priority for the Chico Police Department."

The expanded TARGET Team will now be under the direction of Sergeant Cesar Sandoval, an 18-year veteran of the Chico Police Department. Sergeant Sandoval took the helm of this specialized team March 13, 2017. The team also welcomes two additional law-enforcement members. With more than 30 years combined service to the Chico Police Department, Officers Mark Hoffman and Tony Ferreira will join current TARGET Team Officers Jeff Durkin, Paul Ratto and Community Services Officer Ed Nelson, in carrying out the day-to-day activities of identifying and mitigating criminal activity.

The TARGET Team also includes Mental Health Outreach Coordinator Carson Strauch, representing Butte County Behavioral Health. As part of a growing partnership between the Department and Butte County Behavioral Health, Strauch works alongside TARGET Team members as a liaison for situations involving individuals facing a crisis of mental health and homelessness.

"We see the individuals that need help, sometimes that help cannot always be brought to them," Chief O'Brien explained. "Sometimes you need to bring it to them and that's one of the ideas behind having that behavioral health coordinator."

"You will see officers on bikes, on motors and on foot in the Downtown and One Mile areas. Additional efforts will include an expansion of the public safety camera program as part of our overall public safety efforts in City Plaza Park, Children's Playground and the One Mile Recreation area," said Chief Michael O'Brien.

Officers assigned to the bike patrol will ride TREK bicycles, designed and outfitted specifically for police use. At a cost of more than $1700 each, the creation of the Bicycle Patrol Unit is in part due to partnerships with community organizations which donated funds and local businesses which supplied the bicycles. The Chico Police Department would like to thank Campus Bicycles, Hotel Diamond, Parkside Taphouse and Diamond W. Western Wear for their support.

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