Chief introduces five new policemen for Danville | February 1, 2008 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - February 1, 2008

Chief introduces five new policemen for Danville

Stints in Richmond make seasoned officers

by Jordan M. Doronila

Police Lt. Mark Williams saw courageous residents refusing to be victims of shootings, robberies and assaults when he worked in Richmond.

"It's often referred to as the Harvard-of-law-enforcement college," said Williams, 37, a 1989 graduate of Monte Vista High School. "You learn quickly how to be a street cop."

Now, Williams has returned to Danville, noting that his appreciation of his upbringing grew as he matured. Unlike Richmond, children in Danville are raised in an area where there is heavy parental involvement, which helps them in their early years, and they often only have to worry about getting good grades and staying out of trouble.

"As a teenager I took this for granted," Williams said.

He is thrilled to be back in Danville and hopes to stay for a long time.

"It's coming full circle," he said. "It's where I started. It's where I grew up."

Williams was one of five new police officers introduced by Police Chief Chris Wenzel at the Danville Town Council meeting earlier this month. The other four were officers Brian Bonthron, James Normandin, KC When and Dan Sosa. Wenzel said 15 officers have left the Danville Police Department due to retirement or other opportunities.

Wenzel said the new officers are well-qualified.

"I'm excited with the guys that we have," he said. "They came out of the best of the list."

"We do a good job of screening our applicants," Williams said.

Normandin has been with the Sheriff's Office for five-and-a-half years and worked as a county patrolman, also working in Richmond. He said he enjoyed Richmond's edgy environment.

"I enjoyed the run n' gun style of it," wrote Normandin, in an e-mail to Wenzel.

However, he said at the council meeting he is pleased to be in Danville.

"It's a nice change of pace," Normandin said, noting he enjoys spending time with his family, traveling and cooking - making his own sauce and chili.

Sosa grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and graduated from Armijo High School in Fairfield. He served as a military linguist six years with the U.S. Air Force and received an associate degree in criminal justice from Solano Community College. He has one dog, Siena, and two cats - Franklin and Brewski. He plays the guitar, reads and enjoys martial arts.

When has been working with the Sheriff's Office for 11 years. He was a corporal officer of the county Office of Emergency Management's 800 volunteers, said Wenzel.

"I work for a wonderful chief," wrote When in his biography.

Wenzel joked to the council that with this attitude, When will be "going places."

Bonthron served as a commercial autopilot and will help man the graveyard shifts for the Police Department.

Williams is a former Alamo resident; he was born in Texas but moved to California in his early teens. After graduating Monte Vista, he worked as a police assistant for the Danville Police Department when he 19.

"I had no intention of being a cop," he said.

But he found the experience pleasing. He noted that the camaraderie within the department and the service-oriented attitude at his job grabbed him.

"I liked it so much," he said. "I was hooked."

He trained to become as a reserve officer at a police academy and worked as a full-time officer in Richmond for two years. Afterward, he worked for the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office. He started in the Martinez Detention Facility and moved on to become a county patrolman and an officer in San Ramon, where he worked for three years.

He was promoted to police sergeant for the Sheriff's SWAT Team. Then he was a lieutenant in internal affairs.

"It's a needed process for alleged police misconduct," he said, about internal affairs. He noted that if internal affairs are done inappropriately, the community may lose trust and confidence in the police. He said using a conservational tone - instead of confrontational - makes a successful internal affairs investigation.

In Danville, he hopes to continue to build on the foundation of safety and respect that has already been erected, reduce crime, and find ways to stop traffic accidents, such as education.

Williams said he listens to Van Halen, Guns N' Roses, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Metallica - though not in the last five years. Now he enjoys playing sports with his children and vacationing in Tahoe.


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