NOT-SO-NEW GUY — Lt. Chris Parker stands with his children as they pin on his new badge.

Former Sgt. Chris Parker tapped to fill inaugural role

Cloverdale has a new lieutenant on the police team — and he may look familiar. Lt. Chris Parker was promoted to fill the role of lieutenant from his former position of sergeant. Parker was sworn in on July 29.

The adoption of the new position as well as the implementation of Parker as the new lieutenant was unanimously approved during the July 24 Cloverdale City Council meeting (Councilmember Gus Wolter was absent).

The lieutenant position is new for the CPD, and was part of interim Chief of Police Robert Stewart’s effort to bring the department staffing hierarchy up to the level of comparable departments in the area. Rather than have two sergeants be immediately under the chief of police, the lieutenant position sits between the two positions and will serve as the first in command, should the chief be out of the office.

Reorganizing the department

Introducing this position is a key part of changing the organizational structure of the department, enabling it to have a more clear command structure, Stewart said.

“The lack of accessible supervisory staff is further exacerbated when a sergeant is off on vacation, sick leave, job related injury or training and there have been instances when both sergeants have been unavailable,” Stewart wrote in the background to the city council agenda item pertaining to the position. “While my request to reclassify a current sergeant to that of lieutenant is the primary focus of this report, re-establishing a third supervisor was discussed and supported by council during our recent 2019-20 budget deliberations and adoption.”

As a result, the police department will now have a chief of police, lieutenant and a sergeant. In addition to those supervisory positions, the department has 10 sworn officers.

Cities of comparable size include Healdsburg (which has a chief, lieutenant and five sergeants overseeing 11 sworn officers), Cotati (which has a chief, lieutenant, two sergeants and two corporals overseeing seven officers) and Sebastopol (which has the same supervisory structure as Cotati, with a total of eight officers).

As proposed, the lieutenant position places a focus on the administrative side of the department including “state and federal compliance, major investigation management, incident command responsibilities, personnel matters and the development and implementation of community oriented policing programs,” Stewart said.

While the position does heavily revolve around the administrative side of operating a department, the lieutenant is still expected to respond to calls for service.

Fresh badge

During his time at the CPD, Parker has served both as sergeant and as the interim chief of police while former Chief Stephen Cramer was out on leave.

“Parker undertook the responsibility to interact with council, city staff, lead the department administratively, while still serving as first line supervisor — and even handling calls for service,” Stewart said. “This was not easily done, but he did so with great skill and a sense of duty.”

Stewart and Parker worked together prior to Stewart taking on the role of interim chief in Cloverdale. Before Parker was hired on at the CPD in May 2015, he began his policing career at the Cotati Police Department as an officer in 2001, and was promoted to sergeant in 2005 — during a time when Stewart was serving as chief.

“Having him under my command again in Cloverdale was certainly a pleasure,” Stewart said during Parker’s swearing in ceremony.

Both during his swearing in and during the council meeting that preceded it, both councilmembers and Parker’s comrades made it clear that they believe the promotion is well-deserved.

“Your leadership during all times of crisis is so even. Clearly, all the officers look up to you so much,” Mayor Melanie Bagby said. “You’re always cool under pressure and you always have a smile for everybody. You’re such an asset to our community.”

“It’s been a long journey for me. I put my all into everything. I love law enforcement, I love living here, I love the community, I love working with you guys. I love Chief Stewart,” Parker said following the council’s approval of him becoming lieutenant. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity — just to be a police officer here, to be a lieutenant or sergeant, the support is just an honor.”

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