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Jim Wickham Named Police Chief in Nevada City

Longtime Mill Valley resident and police officer who retired 15 months ago takes the helm of department in a part-time role for small Sierra foothills town.

As news spread this week that former Mill Valley Police Capt. Jim Wickham had taken a job as a part-time police chief in Nevada City, Calif., the reaction he received from friends and family focused on a decidedly different subject: What about Sienna?

Wickham, the fourth generation Mill Valley resident who spent 37 years with the before he , has spent a good portion of his retirement babysitting his 21-month-old granddaughter, spending many a sunny weekday morning roaming Depot Plaza with Sienna.

“It’s going to be a big change for both of us,” the 54-year-old Wickham said. “But although I’ve loved babysitting my beautiful granddaughter, I knew that at my age, I wasn’t going to be retired for the rest of my life.”

Wickham had been looking for a part-time job and recently got his real estate license like his sister and . But when he heard that financially strapped Nevada City was looking for a part-time police chief, Wickham was intrigued.

“I still love law enforcement work,” Wickham said. “I did it for 37 years, so I have a lot of experience to offer. They're in the unique position of wanting a part-time chief, and they liked what I had done here in Mill Valley. I hope to make some changes up there that are positive.”

Wickham's parents, including his father and former Mill Valley Mayor George Wickham, who , had a place for 30 years in the nearby Lake Wildwood area, so Wickham already has a place to live up there.

The job also fit Wickham’s flexible schedule – he’ll head to work on Monday morning and come home on Thursday – as well as his structural needs. The Nevada City position is an hourly contract job without benefits that can’t exceed 960 hours a year. If Wickham works the maximum amount of hours, he’ll make $48,000 in a year, down from the $192,000 he made in Mill Valley in 2010.

That falls in line with the language in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed 12-Point Pension Reform Plan, which calls for all public employee retirees in California to work no more than 960 hours or 120 days a year in order to continue receivig pension benefits.

“There’s no double dipping from me – that’s something I didn’t want to do,” Wickham said.

Wickham starts his new job on March 5. Nevada City Mayor David McKay said in a statement that the city was excited to land Wickham to run the 11-officer department.

"The selection process attracted a number of very well qualified candidates and after two lengthy discussions of the City Council's observations and desire to select the right person for Nevada City, the City Council and City Manager reached unanimity for offering the position to Jim Wickham,” he said. “We are looking forward to Jim Wickham’s joining our Nevada City community.”

Wickham, a father of five kids and widely known in town for his role in community events and fundraisers for groups like ’s Athletic Boosters Club, insists he’ll remain as involved as ever. He’s working to revive the annual Mill Valley Carnival in May at the , an event he organized for nine years until it went on hiatus in 2004. This time as a benefit for , he said.

As for Sienna? She’ll be spending more time with her grandmother Suzanne and anxiously waiting her grandfather’s return each Thursday.

"That's the biggest thing - being away from my family," Wickham said.

Gotta love you , little bro! Nevada City is very lucky! See you up there. Love your Big Sis, Steph
Laniea McCarthy March 01, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Congrats to you Jim. You will be an asset to the dept. and enjoy the sierra's. Sincerely, Niea McCarthy.
Frank Gold March 01, 2012 at 06:11 PM
All the best in your new role. The folks in Nevada City will love working with you as much as we did in Mill Valley. -Frank Gold
Amyland March 01, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Wow - how lucky were Kyle and Hartley to have the future Chief of Nevada City police for their inaugural year of MVLL!! Oh, and thanks for taking a job in my 3rd favorite California town. . .see you for Victorian Christmas! xo Amy, Regan Kyle and Hartley
Weldon C. Travis March 03, 2012 at 10:03 AM
We're looking forward to having Jim be a guest speaker at the Marin Breakfast Group (Expatriates, men only~ about 27 guys), founded in 1946 with two originals still with us; our wimmenfolk meet for lunch at the same restaurant, Tofanalli's, owned by a couple who owned three successful restaurants in Marin. Lots of retired Peace Officers and Firemen here in the vibrant foothills ~ high levels of energy, talent, beauty, entertainment, recreational activities, community involvement and accomplishments. We just might keep him an extra day or two. Retired Marin County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Weldon Travis,1X25, Rough and Ready (near Jim's other home in Lake Wildwood).

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