Bani Kollo – Oakley, California’s New Police Chief

The Brass Key | September 8, 2010 | Comments (0)

A Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office veteran, currently leading the volunteer services division, has been tapped as the city’s new police chief.

Lt. Bani Kollo, 43, will assume the job Sept. 28, replacing Chris Thorsen. He will be Oakley’s fourth police chief.

The Contra Costa County resident has worked with the Sheriff’s Office for nearly two decades. For the past 2½ years, Kollo has overseen a team of 500 volunteers, among them rescue workers, chaplains, reserve deputies and teens with an interest in law enforcement careers.

Oakley contracts with the Sheriff’s Office for its police force.

The lieutenant’s varied skill set helped convince the City Council that he was the best of the four candidates, Councilman Kevin Romick said.

Kollo has held several positions during his time with the Sheriff’s Office, from commanding a detention facility in West County to supervising investigations in San Ramon to working as a patrol sergeant.

Council members, police officers, school officials and city staff all participated in the interview process, but City Manager Bryan Montgomery made the final hiring decision.

“Chief Kollo was selected from a group of very qualified candidates,” Montgomery said in a news release, “but he stood out as the best fit for the organization and the one that provides the best customer service personality that matches the community’s needs.”

Kollo said his Sheriff’s Office salary, which is $113,556 annually, will not change in his new position. After six months, he will be eligible for a maximum 9 percent increase based on his performance.

The Sheriff’s Office promoted Thorsen, who has been Oakley’s police chief for five years, to the rank of captain earlier this summer. He will soon move to the department of inspection and control, where he will help manage internal affairs investigations and concealed weapons permits, among other things.

Thorsen, Oakley’s longest-serving chief, has been widely credited with guiding the city’s police force during a time of rapid growth, taking it from a lean operation to a full-service force dedicated to quality-of-life issues as well as larger criminal matters.

Thorsen worked with the city to crack down on impaired driving, guided the construction of the new police department offices, and sometimes assumed responsibilities of assistant city manager.

Kollo said his primary task will be maintaining the high standards Thorsen has set.

“It’s not like a job where the place is falling apart and needs to be rebuilt,” he said. “This is a place where things are going pretty well.”

After passing up other police chief openings, Kollo said he decided to apply for the Oakley position because the rural nature of the city appealed to him.

“It’s a growing community with hardworking families and still considered a small town,” he said. “I hope to continue the good work that the city has a reputation for.”

Source: Hannah Dreier, Contra Costa Times

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Category: The New Chief

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