Police-community relations on the mend after low point Critics say more change needed at CPD; cell phone case looms

photo by Karen LasloMike O'Brien assumed the chief's post almost two years ago when Dunbaugh left.

photo by Karen Laslo

Mike O’Brien assumed the chief’s post almost two years ago when Dunbaugh left.

by Dave Waddell

Two years ago, Mike Dunbaugh came out of retirement to set the Chico Police Department on a path to reform. His five-month stint as interim police chief ended with a June 4, 2015, final report. In that confidential memorandum sent to the City Council and other officials, Dunbaugh described Chico PD as having abnormally poor relations with the community it served, as well as being unwelcoming to women. 

“The failure of the Police Department to maintain healthy community connections is extreme,” Dunbaugh wrote.  “In over 40 years of being associated with the law enforcement industry in California, I have not seen a department from a city this size dig a hole this deep for itself. City leadership played a role in this happening; and, it is going to take significant effort and time for the police department to reconnect and correct.”

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