In a statement to his department yesterday, San Diego County Sheriff Bill Kolender announced his intention to retire, effective July 2. Kolender said he had intended to serve as sheriff through the end of his term, but his wife Lois' health conditions accelerated those plans.
“I’ve spent over 50 years of my life in the law enforcement
profession , a profession that has left me with great memories I wouldn’t trade for the world," Koldender said. "Thanks to so many of you, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department has become a model agency and our lists of accomplishments over the past 14 years are many.”
Kolender’s tenure, the department’s Crime Laboratory was developed into a full-service, modern entity, which now includes crime scene investigations, fingerprint analysis, firearms analysis, trace evidence, questioned documents, controlled substances, alcohol, and forensic DNA analysis. It has earned accreditation from the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board. It is one of 183 labs nationwide to earn this accreditation.
In 2007, the sheriff proposed, and the board of supervisors approved, a plan to expand the use of DNA. Instead of focusing exclusively on homicides and sexual assaults, the lab created a Rapid Response DNA Team to assist in the investigation of street crimes— robberies, burglaries and auto thefts.
Subsequent to the devastating wildfires in 2003, Kolender led the way for the department’s acquisition of two Bell 205 Medium Lift Type II helicopters. The primary mission for these helicopters is fire suppression and their secondary mission is the rescue of
stranded/injured individuals throughout San Diego County. Both are equipped with 360-gallon external water drop tanks and an internal hoist system. Since the first flights in July of 2005, the helicopters have dropped water on 127 fires.
Another initiative credited to Kolender was the progression of the department’s Crime Analysis Unit. Dispatched calls, traffic stops, crimes, arrests and criminals all have an address in a database. Crime analysts translate the addresses into mapped information for
analysis with Geographical Information Systems software (GIS). The Sheriff’s Crime Analysis Unit has linked the Department Operations Center’s mapping geographical software directly to
Web-hosted satellite data. With this, analysts have the ability to integrate live fire and weather data, normally only viewable as a map on the Internet, directly into their desktop GIS so criminal/disaster data can be mapped along with department information, land ownership records, etc. While the pace of changing technology and techniques is ever-increasing, the
Crime Analysis Unit continues to examine the numbers, map the offenders and incidents, and create opportunities from an endless stream of data.
“My decision to retire has been made easier because of the outstanding leadership team we’ve assembled in the Sheriff’s Department, headed by Undersheriff Bill Gore, who will be in
charge upon my departure,” said Kolender. “I have complete confidence this team will pick up where I’ve left off and maintain the highest professional standards and service to the public that San Diego County residents have come to expect.”
Kolender finished his message to the 3,800 department employees by emphasizing his gratefulness.
“I truly value your friendships," he said. "Thank you for the service you provide to the citizens of this county each and every day. It is difficult to say goodbye to my law enforcement family.”
“Sheriff Bill Kolender has built a notable, distinguished and honorable career in law enforcement and has been a great partner in working to ensure public safety," Gov. Arnold Schwarzennegger said today. "While serving the people of San Diego, he led the county through some of the most devastating wildfires this state has ever seen and also transformed and modernized his department’s crime laboratory which has since earned prestigious accreditation. For over 50 years, Bill has dedicated his life to protecting the public and Maria and I join San Diego in thanking him for his service. Our thoughts are with Bill and his wife Lois as they embark on this new journey.”