Rocklin’s new top cop ready for duty

Lawrence looks forward to improving the department, working with the public
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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With great obstacles from the recession, Rocklin’s new top cop, Ron Lawrence, is optimistic. “I intend to build upon our strengths, identify weaknesses and get even better every day,” the new chief said. “Our organization will strive to excel through this difficult economy, looking for opportunities to improve.” Lawrence took over April 1 after Mark Siemens retired following a decade with the Rocklin Police Department. Lawrence now commands 50 sworn officers and a support staff of 25 with a $12.5 million budget. The force has been saddled with budget cutbacks, frozen vacant positions, shrinking overtime budgets, and salary reductions for all. “It has had an impact on our capacity within the Police Department,” Lawrence said. “However, we have been able to maintain a high-level of services to the Rocklin community largely through restructuring of personnel and because we have highly dedicated employees.” From February 2010 through January 2011, the crime rate in Rocklin was unchanged as the city continues to experience one of the lowest crime rates in the region. Overall violent crime, which represents only 7 percent of all crimes in Rocklin, decreased 2 percent since last year at this time. “The city of Rocklin has enjoyed a low crime rate for many years, and I intend to continue our policing efforts to promote a safe community,” Lawrence said. Lawrence said the department shares the low crime rate with community groups and Neighborhood Watch groups which helped to keep Rocklin a safe place. Lawrence said for the first time in three years the department will conduct a citizen’s survey. The program was cut in 2009 as a cost-savings move but Siemens restored it for the next fiscal budget. “(It) allows citizens an opportunity to provide us with their priorities, express how they feel about the police department and comment on the safety of their community,” Lawrence said. “I invite anyone to contact me personally if they have concerns or ideas about public safety in Rocklin.” As for officer discipline, Lawrence said he’s partnering with the president of Rocklin Police Officer’s Association to keep a pulse on department morale. “I am a big believer in collaboration and will work with the POA to develop solutions and avoid allowing any adversarial atmosphere to develop,” Lawrence said. Lawrence came to Rocklin for the first time in 2006, was hired as a captain from the Palo Alto Police Department. The 21-year veteran was also a sergeant at the West Sacramento Police Department. He said it wasn’t long before he realized Rocklin was special. “I truly enjoy the family atmosphere in Rocklin,” Lawrence said. “People volunteer their time as coaches for organized sports, at our local schools, and many other volunteer activities, which make Rocklin a true community.” Lawrence lives in Rocklin, attracted by the schools and parks. “I am married to a wonderful woman and my best friend, Jennifer,” Lawrence said. “I have an 18-year-old son, Ed Lawrence, and three step children, Taylor, Jake and Zach, who all attend Rocklin schools.” In addition to volunteering on the Executive Board for PEACE for Families, Lawrence does volunteer work as a Shriner with the Sacramento Ben Ali Shrine Center and as a member of the Auburn Masonic Lodge. The details of Chief Lawrence’s new employment contract with salary and benefits are expected to be released on Friday. His contract is expected to be discussed before the Rocklin City Council at their April 12 meeting. ------------- Getting to Know Ron Lawrence Ron Lawrence’s career • Rocklin Police Department Captain since 2006 • Lieutenant Palo Alto Police Department • Sergeant with West Sacramento Police Department • Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Saint Mary’s College • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Union Institute & University • California POST Command College, Class No. 47 Personal Age: 41 Residence: Rocklin Family: Wife, Jennifer; son, 18-year-old Ed Lawrence; three step-children, Taylor, Jake and Zach Hobbies: include running, reading, and golf Favorite book: “The World Is Flat A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Friedman Favorite show: “Band of Brothers”