Santa Rosa police get new crop of leaders

  • Santa Rosa Police Lt. Lance Badger has his police badge pinned onto his uniform by his wife, Kathy Badger, during a promotion ceremony in Santa Rosa, on Monday, December 17, 2012.

    (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

The Santa Rosa Police Department lost more than 150 years of experience this year as nine veteran and high-ranking officers retired, some with nearly 30 years on the force.

The retirements have paved the way for a slew of promotions and new hires, leading to changes within most if not all of the agency's departments, from violent crimes to communications and dispatch.

On Monday, the police department held one of the largest induction and promotion ceremonies in recent years in the Santa Rosa City Council chambers before a packed audience of familiar faces in Sonoma County law enforcement and their families.

Santa Rosa Police Promotion Ceremony


"We've been planning this day for years," Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm said.

Fathers, wives and children pinned badges on three newly sworn officers as well as three sergeants, three lieutenants and a captain given new ranks.

The department has entered a period of "continuous recruitment and testing," the chief said. It has made conditional offers to two entry-level officers and is interviewing for three more positions.

And the turnover is expected to continue next year.

The result is a major shuffle on the force that has placed new managers at the helm of the patrol, violent crimes, domestic violence, narcotics, gang investigations and dispatch desks, among others.

With an eye toward this period of turnover when he became chief in 2009, Schwedhelm instituted "succession plans" for those expected to leave.

Still, "it will be a great challenge for the organization that it happened this quickly," Schwedhelm said.

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