Historic Moment for CHPD

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG)  |  By Elise Spleiss
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(L-R) Commander Alex Turcotte, Commander Jason Russo, Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence, Assistant Police Chief Gina Anderson, and Support Services Manager Sandy Maraviov. Photo by Janet M. Schaefer, Sergeant, Office of the Chief

Department Emphasizes Teamwork

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - September 27, 2018 was a landmark day for the Citrus Heights Police Department (CHDP).  Police Chief Ron Lawrence had the honor of administering the oath of office to former commander Gina Anderson, making her the first assistant police chief in the 12-year history of the department. In his words, “This is a new era for the CHPD, a historical moment.”

Two more firsts in the history of the CHPD were created by newly promoted commanders, Jason Russo and Alex Turcotte. “They hold the distinction of being the only members in the history of the CHPD to ascend through the ranks (police officer, sergeant, lieutenant), to the executive level of commander,” said Lawrence.

The city council chambers were filled with blue uniforms, supportive officers from surrounding police jurisdictions, family members and other well-wishers from the community honored to be part of this event.

Anderson has been acting in her new position since July 8, 2018.  The two commanders’ positions were left vacant by the retirement of Commander Daman Christensen on July 6 and Anderson’s promotion.

Anderson, Russo, Turcotte and Christensen were each hired in 2006 by then police chief Christopher Boyd (now city manager) as part of the new Citrus Heights Police Department. Each has contributed to the building of an award-winning police department.

All three newly promoted staff members come with years of education, experience and important contributions to the positions they have held since their careers began.

In an interview, Russo said he will be running the Investigative Services Division which also encompasses youth and family services and the new Mesa Verde High School Pathway public safety program. He will work towards enhancing the department and the community, helping to solve crimes, and working to make the community a safer place to live. He also remains as president of the Police Activities League.

Turcotte will be head of Patrol Services. He said, “As my predecessors before me, the focus is to drive down crime, calm traffic and improve the quality of life in Citrus Heights.”  He is working with two new lieutenants, Kris Frey and Chad Morris. They will be surveying staff to see how make improvements and provide even better service to the community.

In an address to the city council, Anderson spoke on behalf of her fellow honorees, acknowledging the support needed by family members who are the cornerstone of those in the business of public safety. The importance of teamwork was the common theme. She thanked Assistant City Manager Rhonda Rivera and Community Services Director Rhonda Sherman for their skill and professionalism and vowed to continue their partnership in working with city council and the city manager.

In 2019 Chief Lawrence will become president of the California Police Chiefs Association. His new position will free up Anderson’s time to lead public safety dialogue within communities throughout the state. 

Anderson recognized the great personal sacrifices city founders and community leaders went through to incorporate and to bring a police department to Citrus Heights. She vowed to employ the executive team and community partnerships to keep the memory of this sacrifice alive in the department.

Finally, she emphasized the importance of developing programs focusing on the youth in community to deter crime now and in the future.

Also present at the event to support the new executive team was Tom Chaplin who began his career in Citrus Heights as a lieutenant in 2006. He was the first lieutenant to promote to a commander in 2010. In 2013 Chaplin left Citrus Heights to be chief of police for Walnut Creek. This is just one of dozens of testaments to the quality of officers developed at the CHDP.  Officers move on, taking the experience and leadership learned here to other law enforcements agencies.