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Editorial: A police chief’s understated successes

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Posted: Friday, May 15, 2015 10:30 pm

Mark Helms isn’t a flashy or outspoken police chief.

His style has been measured and deliberate. Ultimately, that style has proven effective in leading the Lodi Police Department through some tumultous times.

As Helms leaves, we have only one critical observation: The state’s pension system lures police chiefs like Mark Helms into retirement at a career stage (Helms is 51) when they appear to be at their zenith of leadership competence.

But that’s not a Lodi issue or a Mark Helms issue, but a statewide reality.

Helms was recruited in from the outside in July 2011 to lead a department with internal divides, as reflected by a letter of no confidence in a previous interim chief. He had to deal with the tragic officer-involved shooting of U.S. Army vet Parminder Shergill by two Lodi officers.

So the last few years have not been easy ones. But they have been years of progress.

Helms has an undeniable record of accomplishment. Stabilizing the department, nurturing talent (especially in the form of Interim Chief Tod Patterson and Capt. David Griffin) and being out front in the integrated push to deal with homeless issues downtown are among them.

Moreover, rather quietly, his department has led a dramatically effective campaign against gangs. Gang-related incidents are down 70 percent over the last three years.

Those are pretty flashy results from a chief who preferred a button-down style.

Well done, chief.

We wish you well.

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