Police Dept. Names Interim Chief

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Thursday September 24, 2009 - 09:21:00 AM

Berkeley City Manager Phil Kamlarz announced Wednesday that the city had named Captain Eric Gustafson as interim police chief of the Berkeley Police Department. 

Gustafson will replace Chief Doug Hambleton who is retiring today (Thursday) after serving the City of Berkeley for 34 years. 

Kamlarz described Gustafson as a 28-year veteran of the Berkeley Police Department who worked his way up through the ranks in a number of different assignments over the years, including serving as one of the department’s first area coordinators. 

“He has strong working relationships with the city’s department directors and within the community at large,” Kamlarz said in an e-mail to city officials. “I am confident that as interim chief, Eric will provide calm and steady leadership to the department during this time of transition; I look forward to continuing to work closely with him in this new capacity.” 

  Kamlarz praised Hambleton’s tenure in the letter, saying “we deeply appreciate Doug’s commitment to our community. We will miss him and we wish him all the best in his retirement.” 

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates issued a proclamation to Hambleton at the City Council meeting Tuesday, which highlights the span of his career with the city, starting from his first job as a patrol officer in 1976, taking on different responsibilities within the department—including the Hostage Negotiations Team and the Budget Unit—and finally becoming chief of police in March 2005. 

“He has worked nights, weekends and holidays,” said Bates, reading from his list of accomplishments, which included overseeing the construction of the Public Safety Building right across from Civic Center Park. 

“Many people know I came to Berkeley as a confused 17-year-old student at UC Berkeley,” said Hambleton, speaking at the council meeting. “I told one of my friends in high school that my career goal was to become Chief of Police of the Berkeley Police Department. Very few people have been able to reach their career goals, I am fortunate enough to be one of them.” 

Hambleton said that the Berkeley Police Department had achieved “many good things” during his time there. 

“There’s still some work to be done in violent crime—the next chief needs to do some work there—but overall, crime is down 25 percent since the year I became chief,” he said. “I would really like to thank all my staff for it.” 

The nine-member City Council also praised Hambleton, with Councilmember Max Anderson saying that Hambleton’s “calm steady hand,” had been an added advantage. 

“These are big shoes to fill, whoever comes in next,” said Councilmember Linda Maio. 

Hambleton said after retiring he planned to travel with his wife—starting with a trip to the Mediterranean and Spain—and then become involved in consulting, maybe even public service. 

The city is scheduled to hold a goodbye party for Hambleton in the City Council Chambers at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr, way on Sept. 24, Thursday at 4 p.m.