Tony Reed
Del Norte Triplicate

After 38 years in law enforcement, Crescent City Police Chief Ivan Minsal has chosen to retire.

Minsal made the surprise announcement at the end of Monday’s city council meeting.

“A couple days ago, after great consideration with Mrs. Minsal, the boss, I have submitted my notice of retirement from public service,” he said. “September 8 will be exactly 38 years, to the minute, and I will step down as chief.”

Minsal said he’d promised City Manager Eric Wier that he will continue as chief until that date.

Minsal praised city staff members, Wier, Interim Fire Chief Bill Gillespie, and the council, noting Mayor Blake Inscore was the only council member when he started as chief four and a half years ago.

“It was an honor to come up here and introduce myself,” Minsal said. “It’s equally an honor to come up here and say thank you for allowing me to serve. For the rest of you, it’s been an honor to serve you in your official capacities as council members in guiding our city. I’ve become very fond of this city and my wife and I plan to stay here until we figure out what we are going to do.”

Following his announcement, Wier told the City Council that Minsal will leave some big boots to fill.

A career of service

The following day, Minsal spoke of his career in law enforcement and how he came to find Crescent City.

He has worked in some sort of public service his entire life, working various public positions before joining the Los Angeles Police Academy at age 23.

Minsal worked his way through the ranks of the department to retire as an area captain in Van Nuys, with a staff of 300 personnel.

He worked many large events there, including the arrival of Pope John Paul II and the 1984 Olympics.

His area was about 18 square miles, inhabited by 177,000 people, he said. Here, he has 12 staff and hopes to have a school resource officer on duty this fall.

“The calls are the same,” he said, “but with a lot less frequency.”

When he retired in LA, he had applied in other places and when Crescent City came up, his wife first said it was too far from Los Angeles. After learning more about the area, she said “We can do this.”

Minsal was hired as chief by then-City Manager Eugene Palazzo soon after he retired. Minsal said the department had undergone some changes before he arrived and has seen many since, from the process that led to marijuana legalization, to the effects of Prop 47, which decreased the legal severity of some felonies.

Accomplishments

Minsal said while recruitment of new officers is difficult, the department is operating at full staff but has the legal minimum amount of officers on duty at any time. He has recently applied for grants to fund a school resource officer, which received city council approval Monday night. He said the station has also seen some improvements, some of which he installed himself. He has developed relationships with agencies to provide police dogs and support, resulting in two K9 officers at CCPD.

“Kids love them and bad guys fear them,” Minsal said.

Minsal said he and officers communicate with the community to help them protect themselves against crime and look out for each other.

“We took the department to the next level,” he said, “and there have been a lot of challenges.”

Challenges, partners

Minsal spoke a lot about the challenges and complications of local homelessness, saying police cannot arrest the problem away. He said the issue needs to be looked at societally and will require an “all hands on deck” approach when it comes to solving it.

As for his department’s part, he said he and officers are there to protect everyone’s rights, regardless of financial stature.

He said the department has officers who love Crescent City and care about the community, which, in turn, has been supportive of his department and its mission.

“Even the bad guys are polite and that says a lot about our credibility,” Minsal said. “The community has also been behind us and it’s been a pleasure to get to know people in many aspects here.”

He also acknowledged the Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol and Del Norte County Probation Department for cooperation and comradery, saying the area has a tight law enforcement family.

“The city is lucky to have these officers,” Minsal said. “Their hearts are in the right place and it’s been an honor to work with them.”

Minsal said he has become very fond of the area, city personnel and community, while growing close to the people in his department.

He said the greatest moments of his 38-year career are those when he and officers can return a missing pet, loved one, family heirloom or valuable possession.

As for the future following his last day, Minsal said, “I can only hope that at some point in the future, people will look back and say ‘Ivan? Yeah, he wasn’t so bad...”

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