Time well spent

By From page A4 | February 27, 2013

In two and a half months our police chief of the past decade will retire. While the Placerville City Council will be deciding on the next police chief we take this opportunity to thank Chief George Nielsen for the outstanding job he has done.

No. 1 in our book is he is accessible and open with the press.

No. 2 is he is accessible, frank and open with the press at a time of crisis. Anyone can be open and cooperative with the press when there is not much going on other than catching a few criminals. But when a mentally unbalanced person steals an ambulance and is shot by police after trying to run them over that’s when police-press relations are tested. Chief Nielsen told us as much as he could at the time. He investigated thoroughly and expeditiously and then gave a thorough account of what he had found.

We should also note that an investigation of the 2010 incident by the sheriff and the DA of the police actions that day affirmed Nielsen’s own conclusions.

Nielsen as police chief has been a rock, a steady person always with a smile. Some of his predecessors over the past 30 years have been less than exemplary and some were downright scoundrels.

Nielsen points with pride to a 47 percent drop in crime since 2004. He attributes this in part to the community involvement of the department. Nielsen’s steady leadership of his department is exemplified by his longtime personal commitment to serve on boards of community organizations such as New Morning, the Boys and Girls Club, the Highway 50 Wagon Train Association, and the Women’s Center (now called the Center for Violence-Free Relationships). He is also an assistant scoutmaster and president of the local Masonic Lodge. Currently he is president of the Marshall Foundation board.

Nielsen’s inception and leadership of the National Night Out even after having to lay off his NNO specialist has been a key to keeping a close relationship with the community. Nielsen and his very capable captain, Mike Scott, have kept their fingers on the pulse of the community and managed to keep crime down in spite of cutbacks resulting from lowered revenue during the recession.

Clearly Nielsen’s involvement in the fabric of the community and his solid reputation helped to win the hearts of the voters when they approved a quarter cent sales tax to fund police operations and keep salaries competitive enough to reduce turnover. The result has been increasing city police officers’ experience to 10 years from two to three years originally. That is surely a factor in the reduction of crime in Placerville.

Thank you Chief George Nielsen for all you do for this community and for your steady leadership of the Police Department. Your tenure as chief has been time well spent.

Mountain Democrat

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