Placerville CHP Commander Capt. Chuck King called his position the “most rewarding assignment in 16 years” of service.
King, who received a promotion on May 1 from lieutenant to captain, is transferring to the Sacramento Communications Center in Rancho Cordova, where he will take command of dispatch for seven areas spread over five counties, he said. King called the 90 or so dispatchers a “lifeline to officers,” saying the job will be a “new challenge” for him.
King said his time in Placerville was “absolutely fantastic” and that leaving it would be “bittersweet.”
“The next commander has some big shoes to fill,” Officer Dan Stark said. Stark mentioned a barbecue was to be thrown in King’s honor. “When he first got here, he had to take charge of the Scott Russell memorial, and he jumped in with both feet.” Russell was killed during a high-speed chase with David Charles Zanon in 2007 after deploying a spike strip and positioning himself in the center median near the Ponderosa Road overpass.
“It was not easy for this place,” Stark said of the time after Russell’s death. “He did a great job of guiding us. This one hurt, and (King) was was there the whole time.”
King is proud of the changes made within the office since he started.
“It’s more community-oriented, it’s more than just enforcement,” he said, noting that the CHP has a larger presence in the community now, such as with the Explorer Post members being visible at community events. Under King’s watch, the office also won awards, including a commendation from the Office of Traffic Safety for innovation.
“Accidents and fatalities are down, fatalities are down about 40 percent.” He also noted that DUI fatalities were down, as well. “I’m happy with that stats, but even one is too many, so we’re doing our part to get it down.”
Stark noted that King’s resource management was excellent in that regard.
“There’s a tendency to think there’s more officers out there, but it’s just the use of resources,” he said.
King agreed, saying that the community has told them that they believe more officers are on the highways. “We’re actually down one or two bodies, not up.”
The 42-year-old began his career with the CHP as an officer in the Bay Area for about eight and a half years, he said. From there, he worked for two years doing undercover work with vehicle thefts. “I had long hair and a beard,” he recalled. “My wife didn’t like that.”
After doing undercover work, he was sent to West Sacramento and to headquarters. In November 2009, he moved to Placerville.
“All of the jobs were challenging in different ways,” he said.
But, in the end, it comes back to the community.
“I want to thank the community for their support,” King said. “(Placerville) will always have a special place in my heart due to the people who live in this community.”
King is being replaced as commander of the Placerville office by Lt. Craig Root, Stark said, who will start on July 1.