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Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman announces retirement

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Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman on Thursday announced he plans to retire at the end of the year, capping a 34-year career with the agency.

Allman, whose last day on the job will be Dec. 28, said he reached the decision after a conversation about two months ago with his wife of 35 years. He came to the realization that the time was right to step down after 13 years as the county’s top law enforcement officer. He oversees 187  full-time employees and manages a nearly $37 million budget.

Allman, 58, said he’s in good health and assured there was “no drama involved” in the timing of his planned retirement.

“I felt good about it and thought, ‘Well maybe it’s time,’ ” he said. “Not everyone has the luxury of retiring when things are running good.”

He handpicked Undersheriff Matthew Kendall, a 30-year veteran of the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, as his successor. Kendall, who grew up in Covelo, was promoted to the No. 2 position in March 2018 from sergeant of the office’s special investigations unit.

The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will decide Tuesday whether to formally promote Kendall to sheriff.

Allman began his law enforcement career with the Fairfield Police Department in 1982 and left the job three years later, in August 1985. He started working at the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office later that month.

He was elected county sheriff in 2006 and began his first term early the following year. He’ll retire about a year into his fourth term. He said he ran for a fourth term after seeing no one else vying for the position.

Allman credited Kendall for his work in crafting the department’s budget the past two years, as well as his overall law enforcement experience.

“I have a good feeling what kind of leader our county looks for and I believe Matt is as close as a replacement for the way I conduct business as anyone I know,” Allman said. “Matt is very capable of doing the job and it was just a choice I made.”

The outgoing sheriff called his greatest accomplishment his leadership role in improving the county’s mental health services. After a failed county ballot initiative in 2016 that would have paid for construction of mental health and drug rehabilitation facilities through a half-cent sales tax, Allman proposed a revised version of the measure a year later and voters approved it. The sales tax has so far raised about $10  million, Allman said.

As for his biggest regret, he said it’s the unsolved disappearance of Round Valley tribal member Khadijah Britton, who was 23 when her family reported her missing in February 2018. His department spent about 4,000 hours on the investigation, yet it remains an open case. Witnesses told authorities they last saw Britton when her boyfriend, Negie Fallis IV, forced her into his car at gunpoint. He was sentenced to four years in state prison last December for felony possession of a firearm stemming from an unrelated case and has not faced any charges in connection with Britton’s disappearance.

In retirement, Allman said he intends to remain living in the county and continuing his efforts to upgrade local mental health services.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com.

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