After 32 years of keeping the peace in the town where his grandfathers mined for gold, Lt. Lorin Gage is set to retire from the Nevada City Police Department this week.
“It’s time to move on and let the younger officers take over,” Gage told The Union. “It’s just time.”
In his more than three decades of serving the town he was raised in, Gage has helped Nevada City transition into a sleepy mining town into a destination for visitors seeking to revel in its historic preservation.
“I’ve enjoyed working with the people of Nevada City,” Gage said. “It’s been a good bunch of people to work with.”
When former Police Chief Bill Beard hired Gage in 1980, there were around a dozen bars on two city blocks downtown, Gage recalled.
“It was nothing on some weekends to see motorcycles from the National Hotel to (Nevada) (T)heater on both sides of Broad Street,” Gage said.
“It used to be really wild back then.”
Since then, Gage has worked with three other police chiefs and four city managers, he said, as the town began to promote its historic Gold Rush significance.
“We started becoming a destination with the preservation of our historic downtown,” said Paul Matson, a former Nevada City mayor and the longest-sitting city councilman.
“Now it is highly accepted that we are preserved gold rush town,” said Matson, who swore Gage in when he was hired.
“One of the challenges for our police department is, and always has been, to have festive, relaxed party atmosphere without having any crime,” Matson said. “I think our department, and Lorin, have done a great job of doing that.”
Matson points out that Gage had plenty of opportunity to move to larger communities, with a larger law enforcement budget, but stayed in Nevada City. Matson said it may have had something to do with his heritage.
“Lorin is a fifth generation member of this community,” Matson said, noting that Gage’s grandfather through his great-great-grandfather all worked in the mines.
“One of the things that was meaningful to me was his familiarity with the community,” Matson said. “He added a lot of intelligence to the performance on the job in the department.”
Gage was promoted to sergeant in 1985 and lieutenant in 2008, he said. During that time, he worked to implement ordinances that prohibited drinking in the streets and expanded no-smoking areas from restaurants to city streets.
“Lorin is a very dedicated employee. He thoroughly enjoyed serving this community.” said current Police Chief Jim Wickham. “He truly loved law enforcement and liked his job.”
Gage also helped deal with the great floods in 1998 and the Scott Thorpe shooting in 2001, he recalled.
“That was a terrible day for our whole community,” Matson remembered.
Matson praised Gage and the Nevada City Police Department for being a small department that handles huge events, such as the Nevada City Classic and AMGEN Tour bicycle races, that bring in thousands of visitors, as well as annual events such as Victorian Christmas, and parades on Constitution Day, the Fourth of July and Mardi Gras.
“I want to wish Lorin every success in his retirement,” Matson said. “He will be missed.”
After he retires, Gage plans to spend his time riding horses and roping competitively. Matson noted that Gage is a nationally rank team roper.
“I have my horses and things to do,” Gage said.
Gage also enjoys playing competitive softball in the Penn Valley men’s league.
“I am confident he will have great time dedicating most of his time,” Matson said. “I want to thank him for his service to our community on our police department.”
Gage’s last day is Friday. The department will hold a small ceremony in his honor at 1 p.m., Wickham said.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4236.
“It’s time to move on and let the younger officers take over. It’s just time.”
— Lt. Lorin Gage, Nevada City Police Department