Walnut Creek has hired a new chief to take the helm of its police department, city officials announced this week.

The city tapped Citrus Heights police Commander and law enforcement veteran Tom Chaplin to take on the role of Walnut Creek police chief, City Manager Ken Nordhoff said.

He succeeds police Chief Joel Bryden, who retired from the WCPD last month.

Chaplin, who is leaving the Sacramento-area agency after 7 years, said he looks forward to using the same community-minded approach to policing in Walnut Creek that he developed in Citrus Heights.

“This is really going to be a dialogue with the community to hone or focus,” he said.

The new chief said he was impressed by Walnut Creek residents’ service-oriented spirit, citing a recent community cleanup event that drew about 1,000 volunteers.

“That’s a level of community engagement and action that’s refreshing and would be very beneficial in a relationship between the police and the community,” he said.

Chaplin said he has met with Bryden to discuss some of the major issues facing Walnut Creek, including residential burglaries, auto thefts and identity theft.

However, he said he wants to engage in a “community dialogue” to help determine the department’s focus.

Before holding the roles of lieutenant and commander in Citrus Heights, Chaplin was a special agent in charge for the California Department of Justice and served for more than a decade at the Sacramento Police Department.

“Tom has extensive background in all aspects of police work and law enforcement,” Walnut Creek City Manager Ken Nordhoff said.

“He is an open-minded, energetic leader whose collaborative approach toward working with the police department, the organization as a whole, the city council and the community will ensure the continued safety and well-being of our community,” he said.

Chaplin is set to begin work at the WCPD on July 8 and will earn $188,400 each year, according to Nordhoff.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

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