Sonora police expand with new officer

archive_import

By JASON ECK

Sonora Police Department has hired one new officer and is close to hiring another.

Police officials are conducting background checks on two candidates and expect to hire a second officer by mid-March, said Lt. Pat Tonegato.

The department has two remaining vacancies. The Sonora City Council has ordered that a third position remain vacant for a year to free up money for existing salaries and raise pay to attract new applicants.

The city's newest officer has returned to work in the city in which he grew up.

Jeff Aitken, 26, was reared in Sonora and graduated from Sonora High School in 1995. He began working for the Police Department on Feb. 15.

Aitken attended Columbia College with plans to become a teacher to follow in the footsteps of his father, Tom, a teacher at Sonora Elementary School. But his plans changed when he learned of an opportunity in Calaveras County law enforcement.

Aitken worked for 18 months as a deputy with the Calaveras County Sheriff's De-partment, which put him through the peace officers' academy.

He said he long had his sights set on returning to Sonora. "I didn't think it would happen this quickly. ... But it was a good fit for everybody and I was happy to come home," Aitken said.

"I think we're very lucky to have Jeff," Tonegato said.

Aitken, who lives in Valley Springs, is engaged to be married and hopes to move back to Sonora soon.

He has one child, Mikahl, 7.

Aitken is working with Sonora Sgt. Dave Bird to learn the computer system and the techniques the department uses to police a small community, Tonegato said. In about three weeks, a police sergeant will shadow Aitken while he works. Police Chief Duane Ellis said Aitken's training should go faster because he knows Sonora and many of the merchants and residents already.

Aitken is the first officer the city hired since City Council members raised police salaries late last year.

11499761
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Friday August 26, 2016

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
Sheriff’s Office responds to critical report

08/22/2016

The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office has responded to a grand jury report ... more

Nursed back to health, hawk flies free

08/19/2016

Sonora resident Laura Reid was driving on Tuolumne Road when she saw ... more

Woman dies of injuries in Highway 120 accident

08/24/2016

The woman who spent Monday night pinned in an SUV after an ... more

Convicted murderer Thomas Hyatt to remain in prison

08/23/2016

Convicted murderer Thomas Hyatt won’t be getting out of prison anytime soon. ... more

Three rescued from wreck near Yosemite

08/23/2016

Three German tourists were rescued Tuesday from the scene of a crash ... more