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Coastal Voices: Tribute to great community as I retire

With heavy heart, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly bid farewell to the wonderful community of Crescent City, as I retire as the Police Chief on Thursday, having just completed four decades in law enforcement.

As many of you know, Crescent City has been our home since my wife, Sharon, and I relocated here from Denver in March 2000. Even before deciding to move to the area, Sharon and I traveled from Colorado to Del Norte County to get married at Point St. George because we had fallen in love with the area while vacationing here visiting friends, and it seemed like a perfect place to formally commit to our new life together. As such, I certainly have fond memories of those days, but they were nothing compared to those I have made after permanently relocating here and eventually becoming the Crescent City Chief of Police. Unfortunately, sometimes in our lives we reach a crossroad, and after much contemplation, Sharon and I have decided it is time for me to head in a different direction. 

In announcing my retirement, I not only believe it is time for me to pursue other personal undertakings at this stage in my life, it is also time for a new skipper to come onboard that can take the helm at the police department and continue with the charted course that we have plotted to take this ship into the future. I am confident that with a fresh perspective and new ideas, the police department will build on successes and programs that have been implemented and will continue to forge ahead full speed under new leadership in the future. I wish the new chief, whomever that may be, good luck and much success, and I am hopeful that he or she will find the job as rewarding as I have. 

As I say goodbye, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and thank those that I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with during my tenure as chief. 

To the Crescent City Council members: There have been times where the council has received bad coverage over the years. Having attended nearly every council meeting as chief, during the good times and tumultuous times, I can confidently say I have never witnessed a council member do anything without the public’s best interest being paramount in their thoughts and decisions. Some of those decisions are difficult and should be respected regardless which side you agree with. I appreciate your devotion to your elected position in representing the community and I appreciate your support of the police department. Thank you. 

To all of law enforcement agencies, associated organizations, and county elected officials: The last 14 years of my association with the law enforcement community of Del Norte County has sometimes been a challenge, to say the least, but I can also genuinely say I have never experienced a more rewarding and satisfying career. I have looked forward to going to work every day because of the unique challenges that we face at every level. Regardless of our positions, we work as a team. Serving the City of Crescent City and Del Norte County and its people is something that I will — and all of you should — always be proud of. Thank you. 

To the Crescent City Fire Department, Crescent Fire Protection District and all emergency services personnel: I have been involved with numerous fire and emergency services departments during my tenure in law enforcement. Your involvement in the community and your commitment to volunteer service says a lot about the type of individuals you are. The public is very fortunate to have fire departments and emergency personnel that work and train in unison for the safety of the community. Thank you for your service.

To my associates at Rural Human Services, Harrington House, Child Abuse Prevention Council, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Boy Scouts, KPOD, KCRE, Blue Ribbon Committee, First Five of Del Norte, Tobacco Use Prevention Program, Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force and the Senior Center: My association working with all of you has been so meaningful and fulfilling. You continually perform under the most trying and frustrating of circumstances in assessing the quality of life issues for our young and elder citizens. You are truly dedicated and caring individuals. The community is lucky to have each and every one of you watching out for the best interest of our children and seniors. Thank you for all you do. 

To my officers and staff: I could go on and on about the admirable work you do. The members of the Crescent City Police Department are some of the most dedicated and committed law enforcement professionals I have had the pleasure to work with over the past 40 years, and I am grateful for your hard work and support. This profession is evolving, not only with the many technological and investigative/crime prevention techniques, but also in the immensely important area of ensuring that we police in a respectful and constitutional manner. I hired each and every one of you, and you understood the philosophies, expectations and how we do business. It is our character and high standard that separates us from some other larger metropolitan departments, and you display that on each and every contact you have with the community. All of you are future leaders. Continue to represent the organization in a positive light, always striving for excellence and performing your duties within the law and departmental policy. Remain professional, responsive, tolerant, sensitive, and compassionate towards everyone. We are the guardians of civil rights. Most importantly, be safe, take care of yourself, your fellow officers and your family. 

Finally, and of most significance, I would like to thank the citizens and business owners, collectively and individually. You have allowed me to experiment with programs such as the Crime Free Multi Housing Program, Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) and Dogs Detecting Drugs Discreetly, which were instituted in our endeavor to make this community a safer place for those living, working and playing here. We have truly become partners and you have embraced the philosophy of Community Oriented Policing to the fullest. In doing so, you have made these programs flourish and the police department successful. I am certain that we would not have been able to accomplish what we did without the community’s buy-in, support, and encouragement. Of these programs, my Chatting with the Chief appearances held at Northwoods Restaurant, Tomasini’s Enoteca and the Crescent City Farmer’s Market, wherein I was able to meet and speak with our community members and visitors face to face to discuss concerns, were by far some of my most pleasurable and memorable times. I also very much enjoyed our weekly KPOD Chatting with the Chief segments, which have been on air for five years, covering over 250 topics, alerting and educating the community of important public safety issues. 

It has been my honor to serve you as your police chief and a privilege to meet and work with so many of you on a continuing basis. Although it has been hard work at times, I have loved every minute of it, and the time has just flown by. I will cherish these times always. 

In case you’re wondering if Sharon and I plan to stay in the area, as I mentioned above, this is home. She loves her job and her co-workers at Pelican Bay and wants to continue working at least a few more years. I have also been asked to teach at the College of Redwoods’ Criminal Justice Degree Program at the Del Norte campus and will continue to instruct at the Eureka Police Academy and share my experiences, expertise and insight. I also plan to take up a few hobbies, travel and spend more time with Sharon, my daughters and their husbands and, of course, my grandchildren. You will also be seeing me around town playing with some of my cherished toys. 

In closing: Our community is unique and has a lot to offer. If we continue to work and support each other, imagine the possibilities. To that end, I urge you to assist our small business owners with your patronage, volunteer with the unlimited organizations available, get involved with our civic group, and support our city and county leaders through the difficult times that we and the entire nation are facing and ask how you can make a difference. Lend your assistance to those in need and less fortunate, help whenever you can and do whatever you can do to make this a community that we can all continue to be a part of and be proud of. I wish you all well. 

Douglas Plack has been Crescent City 
Police chief since 2003.

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