Grass Valley Police Department hires new officer, promotes from within |

Grass Valley Police Department hires new officer, promotes from within

by Dave Brooksher
Staff writer

The Grass Valley Police Department held a badge-pinning ceremony for two of its officers at Tuesday night's meeting of the city council.

Officer Alexander Bartkiewicz was born in Carmichael and attended high school in Rancho Cordova. Bartkiewicz graduated from a police academy in San Jose on Jan. 28 and was hired by the city of Grass Valley the following day.

"On behalf of the City Council and the city of Grass Valley, welcome to the force," said Mayor Dan Miller.

"I really am grateful for the opportunity to serve the city of Grass Valley and be part of the family of the police department," Bartkiewicz told the council. "I look forward to a long and fruitful career here."

After that, Bartkiewicz recited the law enforcement code of ethics by heart.

He's one of four officers added to the department in recent months. The Grass Valley Police Department is authorized to fill 25 sworn positions, and 24 of them are now filled.

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These new hires are a sign that the implementation of Grass Valley's Measure N sales tax increase has helped the police department recover from a period of reduced staffing levels. That reduction was necessitated by economic hardship, starting in 2008.

Police Chief John Foster called it a "significant organizational change."

"We went from having 31 officers … down to 20 as of last year," Foster said. "The good news is that the sales tax allowed us to get some of our lost positions back that were eliminated due to a lack of funding."

The department also promoted one of its own to lieutenant in a second ceremony Tuesday night. Alex Gammelgard has worked for Grass Valley since he graduated from the academy in 2005.

During that time, Gammelgard has worked as a field training officer, a member of the Special Incident Team and a detective. He was promoted to sergeant in 2012.

Out of three sergeants who applied for the position, Gammelgard was "ranked No. 1 on the eligibility list" based on test scores and interviews, according to a report to the council written by Foster.

"Alex (Gammelgard) brings fresh blood and a fresh perspective to the Grass Valley Police Department leadership team," Foster said before presenting Gammelgard with his new badge. "I know that he'll achieve results, lead change, build successful teams and community coalitions."

Each member of the city council congratulated Gammelgard on his new rank.

"You emulate our community, and you emulate what we want out of our community. You're always the guy that I call when we have a question," said Councilman Jason Fouyer.

"Thank you for always giving me that opportunity. It is just awesome to have you in this position."

The Grass Valley Police Department has been without a captain since the departure of Rex Marks in September 2013.

"That position was pretty much eliminated," said Foster.

At one point, the department had two captains on staff. Gammelgard's promotion to lieutenant was part of Foster's strategy to sustainably fill that void.

The department also hopes to add an additional lieutenant position in the future.

"There are some salary savings because it's a different rank," Foster said.

"But we're also looking long-term at the future structure of the organization."

To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, call 530-477-4230 or email

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