Julie Horstman is no stranger to hard work.
She grew up on a ranch in Siskiyou County; she attended law school and had two internships while working full-time as a probation officer in the Los Angeles area.
Now, she’s leading the local California Highway Patrol office as its commander – the second woman to do so in Yuba-Sutter.
She’s replacing Rodney Ellison, who held the post for six months. Shon Harris, Yuba City councilman, served in the capacity for three years before Ellison.
“I’m so excited to be back in the field,” Horstman said Thursday. “My promise to my squad and community … is to provide the highest level of safety, service and security.”
In her nearly 20 years with the agency, she’s worked her way up from a cadet to sergeant to lieutenant to captain and worked in divisions from truck scales to legislative analyst to field training to telecommunications. She is a graduate of the FBI academy, where, she said, saying you’re from CHP means something.
And she is aware of the challenges that face the area: Yuba City is ranked ninth nationally in vehicle thefts, and head-on collisions and DUIs continue to plague the roadways.
“We have a great squad in Yuba-Sutter, it’s just tapping into that knowledge,” Horstman said. “Changes can be made to make us more indispensable to the community.”
One change, she said, is personnel allocation –making sure more supervisors are available each shift and that units are allocated to areas with a high rate of collisions or DUIs. They utilize maps (like one showing fatal collisions) and spreadsheets (outlining vehicle thefts) to chart trends and help spark leads. She cited officers’ July arrest of two men suspected of stealing dump trailers and selling them online, saying that organization helped show a trend and linked several cases together.
“It’s good, old-fashioned police work,” she said.
With a total staff of 52, it’s important to set priorities and maintain consistency and flexibility, she said. And how officers react to trends – like making more arrests – can help the personal decision-making of residents. But the only thing that’s constant, she said, is change, which can come in legislation or policy or public attitudes toward law enforcement.
“No matter what it takes, we’re going to get things done,” she said.
Horstman is especially proud of her graduation from the FBI academy and becoming commander of an office (this is her third time serving in that capacity), but said she has the humility to ask for help or input. And she holds herself to high standards for her team: she doesn’t drink, as to always be available and never be in a questionable situation.
“I’m an example to my people,” Horstman said. “I’m in their corner.”
With her experience, commitment and humble beginnings, Horstman said she is looking forward to getting out into the community and working alongside her team.
“My goal is to make this area be the best it can be,” she said.