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'Compassionate' Marysville captain moving north for career
His emphasis on community policing and outreach made him a lot of friends in Marysville.
But the chance to serve as head of both police and fire protection services in tiny Lake Shastina means farewell for Capt. Mike Wilson of the Marysville Police Department.
The retirement and resort community of 2,700 in Siskiyou County recently hired Wilson to take over as chief of public safety. His last day on the job with the Marysville force is Wednesday.
"You know that Norman Rockwell picture where the cop is at the counter talking to the kid? That's Capt. Wilson," said John Pekham, a Marysville resident.
Peckham was the beneficiary of Wilson's encouragement during a particularly rough spell in the riverbottoms.
Now, Peckham said, he's back on his feet.
"He's been a great influence in my life. He's compassionate — not like a regular cop," he said of Wilson.
"Mike has a passion for other people's plights," said Marysville Police Chief Wally Fullerton. "There have been a number of incidents where he's helped under extremely difficult circumstances."
Wilson has served as the department's second in-command for more than five years.
He came to Marysville 10 years ago after stints in Oroville and several smaller jurisdictions, and rose up the ranks — to sergeant in 2004, lieutenant in 2005, and captain in 2008.
Sgt. Chris Sachs, who is head of operations under Fullerton, said Wilson has been a big help in establishing relationships between police and local civic groups and schools.
A year ago, Sachs and Wilson began meeting each month with school administrators throughout the city. Wilson also re-established a Police Athletic League program and helped create a new community outreach position for MPD Cpl. Gabrielle Carter.
And a move last summer that involved a trailer and a homeless man resulted in one of the most memorable contributions Wilson has made, Sachs said.
"One of his greatest ideas was putting Shortstack out at the cemetery," he said of the full-time volunteer post now held by Donald "Shortstack" Oliver to help deter vandalism at the historic Marysville City Cemetery.
"Now we have surveillance we didn't have before, and we were able to provide a place for him (Shortstack) to stay out of the elements," Sachs said.
"He's fantastic," Shortstack said after recovering from the news about Wilson's pending departure. "I tell you what — very few police I've ever met would have the insight about how to work with the homeless. He's always trying to help solve a problem."
Fullerton said he recently made former Reserve Officer Dave Baker commander of the department's support division.
But the chief doesn't intend to replace his departing captain.
"I'm hoping to use those salary and benefits savings to help with current contract negotiations," he said.
The Marysville Police Officers Association and the city are still struggling to reach an agreement over employee contracts after more than five months of negotiations. Wilson's job with department once earned him $72,000 per year. But budget cuts in recent years reduced his base pay to $62,000.
Prior to entering law enforcement in 1989, Wilson was a firefighter with California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. His new job, he said, will allow him to return to his firefighter roots and enjoy the outdoors.
"I really love the people here, but I'm a country boy. ... I belong up there in the woods," he said.
CONTACT Nancy Pasternack at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4781. Find her on Facebook at /ADnpasternack or on Twitter at @ADnpasternack.