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Auburn police department celebrates new chief

Ruffcorn says he wants to enhance foundation already in place
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn Police Department welcomed its new chief with open arms Thursday while saying goodbye to its chief of five-and-a-half years. Chief John Ruffcorn was sworn in by Placer County Judge Gene Gini Thursday morning in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Sgt. Victor Pecoraro led the ceremony with the entire police department in attendance. “It’s a really rare opportunity to have us all together,” Pecoraro said. “It’s a nice little thing.” Law enforcement representatives from Placer, Nevada and Sacramento counties as well as community members packed the chambers to watch Chief Valerie Harris pass on the reigns to Ruffcorn. Ruffcorn’s wife, Angel, pinned a chief’s badge on her husband after he took the oath. Harris made some comments about her career and Ruffcorn’s during the ceremony. “In this profession a person must be mindful to always take the high road because we set the example, not only for the entire department but for the community,” Harris said of a career in law enforcement. Harris said she had no doubt Ruffcorn and the department’s staff could effectively move the department into the future where it needed to be. “I’m completely confident, I have ultimate trust in his ability to take this organization to where it needs to go,” Harris said. “He is going to do a stellar job.” City Manager Bob Richardson said it was a bitter sweet moment saying goodbye to Harris and welcoming Ruffcorn. “The only way this little town is going to move forward is if we have great people working for us,” Richardson said. “John is a perfect fit for us today.” Ruffcorn said he knew he wanted a career in law enforcement as a 19-year-old on his first day with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department when former Sheriff Ben Clark shook his hand and welcomed him to their team. During the ceremony Ruffcorn thanked his law enforcement mentors, fellow Auburn police and members of his family including his mother, his stepfather, brother-in-law and three older sisters. “My sisters are special women who have set the bar very high for me,” Ruffcorn said. “I strive to be more like them every day.” Ruffcorn thanked his wife last. “If it were not for you, I would not be here today,” he said. At a reception after the ceremony Ruffcorn said he had a goal for his time as chief. “Obviously to enhance what is already in place, the foundation Chief Harris had already laid to navigate us through these tough financial times while maintaining the services we provide to the citizens of Auburn,” Ruffcorn said. Ruffcorn is scheduled to make a base pay of $132,685 after a 3.15 percent reduction from $137,000, according to Andy Heath, administrative services director for the city of Auburn. All city managers are currently experiencing this reduction as part of the city’s Cost Savings Plan, Heath said. Ruffcorn is also scheduled to pay his employee portion of his CalPERS pension, which amounts to $12,014 annually, as part of the savings plan, according to Heath. According to Heath, Ruffcorn’s additional city-paid benefits are set to include $7,855 for health benefits, $32,626 for the employer’s portion of his CalPERS pension, $1,924 for the Medicare portion of FICA, $800 for a uniform allowance and $107 for the city’s employee assistant program. Councilman Keith Nesbitt said one of the first things he did when he became a councilman was to appoint Harris as chief, and now he is looking forward to Ruffcorn’s management as well. “(I appreciate) his professionalism, very professional, very educated, confident, really cares about the community,” Nesbitt said. “He steps into leadership roles. He has the integrity to be a great chief. He has all the qualities we would be looking for in a chief if we were looking for one.” Matt Spokely, an Auburn planning commissioner, said he is excited about fresh ideas Ruffcorn will bring to the city. “John’s background I think kind of brings a new, fresh look to the city, particularly in respect to new planning projects and interaction with the commission, and I’m looking forward to working with him,” Spokely said. Placer County District Attorney Scott Owens said he has been happy with the past management of the Auburn Police Department and is looking forward to its new leader. “We sure enjoyed working with Chief Harris, but we are also looking forward to moving forward with Chief Ruffcorn,” Owens said. “He is a first-class officer, professional, and I’m sure looking forward to having him as a chief in my community.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ---------------------------------------------------- Getting to know John Ruffcorn • Ruffcorn started his career in law enforcement at 19 years old in 1986 at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, where he worked for nearly 23 years • On Dec. 22, 2008 he became captain of the Auburn Police Department • In 1990 he was in early episodes of the show “COPS” in Riverside County • He married his wife, Angel, on June 10 • He has three older sisters • His favorite band is Metallica • His favorite movie is “The Shawshank Redemption” • He and Angel love to travel and have been to 14 countries in the last five years. He also enjoys jogging and golf • He and Angel have a cat named Kato, which is a Japanese bobtail