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Two true public servants: Richard Bull & Charlie Halford

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POSTED July 22, 2010 1:58 a.m.
public servant n. 1. a person who works for the state or local government. 2. Ripon Police Chief Richard Bull.

They need to update Webster’s dictionary. When you turn to the entry “public servant”, you should see a photo of Ripon Police Chief Richard Bull who represents a breed of people who put community above self.

Bull is retiring Aug. 20 as Ripon’s police chief after 10 years at the helm. He is being hired as a consultant for six months after retiring to advise interim police Chief Lt. Ed Ormonde. Before you start rolling your eyes thinking of state workers you know in the middle of The Great Recession who have “retired” only to be hired back as  consultants or “temp” workers to pull two checks from the state, listen to what Bull is getting paid.

He only asked for his dental, vision, and health plan to be covered during the six months. Nothing else. No additional compensation for attending meetings outside the normal business day including council meetings and workshops. No reimbursement for expenses or costs of any kind incurred during the performance of his duties as a consultant. Nada.

For that “pay” he’s agreed to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He’ll check in with the interim chief several times a week. He’ll assist the department in completing the Escalon Police Department’s dispatching contact along with that for Angels’ Camp if they decide to make the same deal with Ripon. He also will meet with Ripon Police Officers Association representatives for labor contract negotiations to provide a buffer between rank and file police officers and City Manager Leon Compton as well as the interim chief. He also will do the same for personnel issues. He also will be given the option of continuing in the ranks of Ripon Police force in his retirement as a level one reserve police officer. He also will help with background checks on the final candidates for his permanent replacement if the city so asks.

Bull loves Ripon, is proud of the men and women who have served with him, and viewed serving the public as a peace officer as a calling as much as a career.

His handprint will be lasting on the technology advances as well as the stepped up community-based policing that has allowed to occur in Ripon. There is no second guessing his professionalism and dedication. And now – without a doubt – there is no questioning his commitment to his community.

Bull understands the financial crisis facing cities such as Ripon. He also understands the need for assistance in making a smooth transition.

Bull isn’t an aberration when it comes to those who labor for cities and school districts. Men and women like Bull have a personal connection to the people they serve. They are their neighbors. It is something that many who labor in government service farther away from the people can never have. As a result, they have an unrealistic view of reality including the current crisis we find ourselves in today.

There are countless other examples. One happens to involve a police chief who has already retired – Charlie Halford.

After stepping down as Manteca Police Chief, Halford answered the call to help the Manteca-Lathrop Boys & Girls Club get on track after several rough years. Almost to the day he walked in the door, the Great Recession hit bringing with it more demand for services from more kids whose parents can’t afford any other alternative to help keep their sons and daughters off the street as well as a tightening economy that made raising funds more challenging.

Not only did Halford step up to the plate but he made the decision on his own to forgo more than half of his salary to allow staffing to stay as high as possible.

Yet his rewards at times are cheap shots from a small handful who accuse him of “double dipping” which wouldn’t even be the case even if he was taking a full salary. The Boys & Girls Club is a standalone non-profit and is not part of the City of Manteca budget as some infer.

Why does Halford do it? Well, he knows firsthand the big difference the club has made over the years on the lives of young people and how it has helped keep youth crime down in Manteca. He also did it for the same reasons Bull is doing what he is doing – he is proud of being a part of his community and he understands the challenges that everyone is facing.

Just like Bull and countless others who labor on behalf of the community, Halford is a true public servant.
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