Police Chief Uhler retires badge after four decades
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — After a decade in South Lake Tahoe and four decades in law enforcement, Police Chief Brian Uhler is retiring his badge.
Uhler started his career in 1979 as a military police officer for the U.S. Army. Then, in January 1983, he joined the Corpus Christi Police Department in Texas.
He served there for 25 years before joining the UCSF Police Department in 2008. Finally, in 2010 he was named Police Chief for the City of South Lake Tahoe.
Uhler told the Tribune he heard he was chosen out of a pool of more than 70 applicants.
A lot has changed in the 10 years he’s been here, including the departure of the fire chief, leaving Uhler to oversee both departments for a period of time, five city managers and growth in the city.
Even recently, the city has again been without a fire chief, lost its city manager and will now be losing its police chief.
“The city has gone through a lot of stress and with that disruption, it is good to have stability in the police department,” Uhler said.
To give the department stability, Lieutenants David Stevenson and Shannon Laney will be acting chiefs, each for four week period.
Uhler is confident the city could hire internally to fill the role. In fact, hiring internally would be on par for the city, with Uhler being the only chief hired from outside the agency.
“I’ve set this organization up to have people step up into the chief role,” Uhler said.
In his time as chief, Uhler has worked hard to give his sworn staff the best opportunities. When Uhler joined the city, staff was able to get reimbursed for training by California, but it was the bare minimum for training opportunities.
“I felt strongly that wasn’t the way to go,” Uhler said. He immediately began supporting a robust training program.
He said not only does it make new detectives feel they can advance in their careers but it also keeps the force stay on the cutting edge.
Staying on the cutting edge is another accomplishment of Uhler who has tried to stay ahead of the curve in terms of technology.
He helped negotiate new funding arrangements to improve both the police and fire fleet. He also put up a security fence around the police department building to keep the fleet and non sworn staff safe.
He’s leaving the department with a few projects, including a building remodel that is due to be completed this summer and new video cameras at the entry and exits points of town that they were able to purchase thanks to a grant from Lisa Maloff.
The thing Uhler is most proud of is the relationships the police department has built and maintained with city staff and other city departments. He feels the police department works well with the other departments which isn’t always the case in other cities.
Uhler’s advice to his successor is the saying, “don’t sweat the small stuff and it’s all small stuff.”
“Any person sitting in this particular seat would be well advised to look forward,” Uhler said.
Don’t get fixated on criticisms, and when something bad happens, be open and transparent with the staff and the with community. Each issue, he said, will be short lived so remember to ‘drive on.’”
Another reminder he has; remember that we live in a beautiful place, things are not as terrible as it seems.
Uhler’s last official day is Friday the 13th, but he requested that day off so his last working day is Thursday, March 12.
He will be moving to the Bay Area to live with his wife and will be working at ICU Technologies Inc., a company that provides security related technologies to schools, cities and other local governments.
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