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Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson announces retirement

Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson
Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson
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Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson notified City Manager Miles Slattery Wednesday that he would be retiring from the Eureka Police Department at the end of November 2021. Chief Watson served the local community as part of the EPD since 2005 and was appointed Chief of Police in 2017.

In his over four years as Eureka’s Chief of Police, Watson emphasized relationship-based policing, community engagement, and building deeper partnerships, understanding and trust. One of his highest priorities was strengthening police-community relations.

"Chief Watson has been a progressive, innovative and creative problem-solver," City Manager Miles Slattery said. "Advocating tirelessly on their behalf, Chief Watson has worked hard to take care of the men and women of EPD and prioritize employee wellness, improved working conditions, new technologies, better equipment and training, wholistic officer safety, retention and recruitment. In the interest of earning and safeguarding the public’s trust, he also increased transparency and accountability within the police department and its interactions with the community," Slattery added.

Chief Watson’s integrity, steadfast leadership and commitment to the safety of the community were notable throughout the many unprecedented crises the community and country have faced during the past two years, the city said.


I’ve had the honor of being a full-time law enforcement officer for over 24 years, starting my career with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office in 1997. I also proudly served in the U.S. Army for three years, so I’ve been serving my country and my community nonstop for over 27 years. It is thus with a feeling of bittersweet peace that I announce my upcoming retirement. While my fire has not diminished, it is time for me to take a restful step back and reflect with pride on a career well spent, even as I look forward with enthusiasm to the next adventure. I plan first to take some time to be more present with my amazing family, travel, teach, and finish my graduate degree.
My over 16 1/2 years serving the Eureka community has been a great privilege and the highlight of a long career in public service. I genuinely love this community and could not be prouder of the dedicated men and women of the Eureka Police Department. It has been an honor to lead and work beside them. Their daily service, sacrifices, resiliency, and accomplishments are inspirational, and they deserve our full support, respect, and appreciation. A strong foundation for the department’s future has been built, and I look forward to watching EPD continue to blossom into our region’s premier, community-oriented law enforcement agency.
Policing is a shared community responsibility that is all about relationships at its heart. I want to take a moment to thank the many people who have shown the Eureka Police Department, my family, and me so much support and encouragement over the years. I cherish your friendship and will never forget you. In the demanding profession of law enforcement, we must recognize “our families serve too.” I especially want to thank my wife and children for “loaning” their loved one to public service for so many years. Now it’s their turn.
In closing, when I became Chief, I echoed Coach Lou Holtz and asked the following of EPD: Do what’s right, do the best you can, and treat others the way you’d like to be treated. I have striven to lead by example, and I move forward with the sureness I lived and led by these principles. Eureka, it has been a blessing and an honor to be your Chief of Police. Thank you for the opportunity.
All the best, Chief Steve Watson

“Chief Watson has led the City of Eureka’s Police force through several years of important transition and we are thankful for his service,” Slattery said. “We will announce details of the recruitment for a new chief in the days ahead and expect that this search will help us bring additional resources and opportunity to the many men and women who tirelessly serve our community as part of the EPD every single day.”

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  • Elected President of the Law Enforcement Chiefs Association of Humboldt (2019) and Vice President (2018)
  • Elected Chair of the Humboldt County Drug Task Force (1/2019)
  • Two-term Vice President of the Eureka Police Officers’ Association (EPOA)
  • Appointed to Board of Directors of the California Police Chiefs Association as the Region 1 Representative (12/2019-present)
  • Appointed member of the California Police Chiefs Association Training Committee (3/2019present)
  • As a Captain, co-organized and managed EPD/DHHS Mobile Intervention and Services Team (MIST) program providing outreach and services to the severely mentally ill homeless through an integrated co-responder team approach (2015 - present).
  • Author and co-author of City of Eureka’s successful grant application for Measure Z funding to help to reduce homelessness in Eureka and provide outreach, services, housing and detox programs (FY 2015-1016 - FY 2018-2019—a total of around 1.8 million in grant funding during this period alone).
  • Formed the City of Eureka’s first joint, multidisciplinary Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) team (2018).
  • Oversaw implementation of a complete P25 compliant (digital) radio communications system upgrade with a total cost of over 3.1 million dollars (largely grant funded). (10/2018 – completed in early 2021). EPD now has a state-of-the art complete new public safety radio system that will serve public safety for over a decade to come.
  • Oversaw implementation of a new police department records management (RMS) and computer aided dispatch (CAD) system, RIMS. Citizen RIMS increases transparency and helps our community become more informed and connected through features like live and historical incident mapping, crime mapping and charts, arrests, stolen vehicles, daily bulletins and more. (11/2017)
  • Mental health therapy and support for first responders. Collaborated with Cordico to create the innovative Eureka PD Wellness App which provides ready access to therapists, peer support, and the leading officer wellness solutions. App offers confidential, in-hand, on-demand 24/7 access to over 40 modules on critical topics like trauma, emotional health, burnout, compassion fatigue, family support, financial and physical fitness, nutrition, psychological first aid, resilience, stress management, depression, alcohol and wellness self-assessment tools. EPD was one of the first five adopters of this vital tool. (10/2019)
  • Contracted with a family counseling center specializing in serving first responders and their families to provide confidential debriefing and counseling services to all Eureka Police Department members on an annual/bi-annual basis. Private mental health therapy and support wellness check-ins delivered via initial 40-minute individual sessions at no cost to the employees. (4/2021)
  • Directed implementation of the Eureka Police Department’s NARCAN (naloxone) program. All staff trained and equipped with NARCAN rescue kits. Between March 2019 and March 2021, EPD officers administered NARCAN to 28 patients, 24 of whom survived their overdose event.
  • Finalist team - 2017 Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing(Project: “The Vacation of Devil’s Playground”)
  • Semi-finalist - 2017 Herman Goldstein Award (gun violence/safety initiative “Project S.A.F.E. Eureka”)
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