Leikauf ready for sheriff’s duties in El Dorado County
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Jeff Leikauf reported for his first day of work with the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office in 1990, just 21 years old at the time. His first assignment was as a correctional officer at the South Lake Tahoe jail.
Leikauf told the Mountain Democrat he remembers wondering what it would be like to be the sheriff of El Dorado County.
“It’s the craziest thing because I did have that thought on my very first day,” he said.
Thirty-two years later Leikauf, 53, a husband and father of four, is readying himself for a June 7 election where he is unopposed to serve as sheriff. He said he aims to serve more than one term.
“I love serving something that’s bigger than myself,” the Cameron Park resident shared. “It’s my life’s work and I’ve always been a proud member of the Sheriff’s Office. I’ve always been proud to take that car home and park it in my driveway and represent our agency.”
In those 32 years his ladder to the top included becoming a deputy sheriff, a school resource officer, a detective, a sergeant and now a lieutenant, where he leads patrol operations.
That breadth of experience helps him offer support and guidance to his fellow officers.
“I could say, ‘I’ve done your job and I know the things you’re experiencing. I know what you may be going through or when you’re frustrated,’” Leikauf said.
His hard work turned heads and about five to six years ago Sheriff John D’Agostini called Leikauf up to his office to chat.
Still a half-decade away from retirement, D’Agostini told him he was putting together a succession plan and wanted to know if Leikauf was interested in running to be the county’s next sheriff.
“This is a guy who has the same visions, values and he will continue the direction that the agency is going,” D’Agostini told members of the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce last month. “This is a guy who gets it.”
Leikauf was interested. As the years ticked by D’Agostini would check in to see if Leikauf was still up for the job. Last year D’Agostini sat down with Leikauf and his wife Jenny and told them this would be his last term.
The lieutenant was ready.
“He said ‘Good, because there’s no turning back now,’” Leikauf recalled. “We had a game plan and we just got to work.”
He hit the ground running, campaigning all over the county. When it became official Leikauf would be running unopposed, he didn’t put his foot on the brakes and continued campaigning. He said he wants to get to know as many residents as he could.
“For me to be standing here unopposed, I think it’s a testament to our leadership, the sheriff’s mission and the way our men and women go about doing their jobs,” Leikauf said. “It’s just building on what we’ve been able to accomplish in our sheriff’s three terms.”
Leikauf’s campaign slogan is “building on the best” and he is focusing on issues such as continuing to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement officers and local residents and business owners. One of his priorities is preventing and solving costly thefts and burglaries.
He also hopes to enhance programs aimed at reducing criminal re-offenders by giving them life and job skills.
Leikauf was born in Sacramento and went to Valley High School. He played baseball on a Cosumnes River College team where he shared the field with future MLB All-Star Fernando Viña.
It was during that time in 1988 when Leikauf went on his first ridealong with a family friend, who was a brand-new deputy.
Leikauf said he was enthralled by the experience and his friend recommended he try a career in law enforcement. He took the test to join the Sheriff’s Office and he’s been in El Dorado County ever since.
He brought his baseball talent to the foothills, coaching Little League teams and at Union Mine, Ponderosa and Oak Ridge high schools, as well as club softball. He’s also been a youth basketball and football coach and is currently mentoring with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Sierra.
He said El Dorado County means everything to him.
“It’s given me a place to have my career, a place to raise my family,” Leikauf explained. His children, Easton, Karsyn, Hunter, and Corey, range in age from 13-29. “It’s allowed me to be a coach, a father, an uncle, a friend and a community leader. It has allowed me to become the man I am today.”
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