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Grass Valley CHP commander announces retirement

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

The head of the California Highway Patrol’s Grass Valley office is set to retire at the end of November.

David Qualls, a Grass Valley native, is winding up his nearly 30-year career with the California Highway Patrol after a little over two years as commander of the local CHP office.

“Its been great, I’ve loved being home, but it’s time to go,” Qualls said. “I want to spend some time with my family and see the world while the kids are still young.”



The family will move to a 6-acre ranch in Nevada and plans to travel around the world.

“It’s been a dream come true, working in Grass Valley.”
— California Highway Patrrol Lt. David Qualls

“We’ve been talking about it for years and years,” Qualls said. “We want to start in England and then migrate around Europe, then wherever we want to go, we’ll go. We homeschool, and we will continue doing that overseas.”




Qualls grew up in the Sunset View area off Rough and Ready Highway and graduated from Nevada Union High School in 1979. He served as a reserve officer with the Grass Valley Police Department and was an Explorer Scout with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office before graduating from the CHP Academy in 1983.

Qualls initially was posted to the East Los Angeles office. He was assigned to Grass Valley from 1999 to 2001 and received a medal of valor from then-Gov. Gray Davis for his role in the Scott Thorpe shootings Jan. 10, 2001.

He was one of the first officers on the scene at Lyon’s Restaurant on Nevada City Highway (now Lumberjacks), where Thorpe killed assistant manager Mike Markle and critically shot cook Richard Senuty.

Qualls was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and to lieutenant in 2009. He became commander here Sept. 1, 2010, and has been shepherding the construction of an expanded CHP facility that is currently underway on McCourtney Road.

The facility, which will include approximately 16,494 square feet of office and ancillary buildings, an auto bay, a fueling station and a 120-foot telecommunications tower, is set to be completed in March of next year. It will replace the 1970-vintage building the CHP currently shares with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Qualls’ last day will be Nov. 29, and his replacement will start Jan. 1, he said.

“That person will be responsible for moving into the new building,” Qualls said.

“We thought about staying for that (day) … The old office has been here since I was a little boy.

“It’s been a dream come true, working in Grass Valley,” Qualls said. “The officers and staff have been phenomenal. I’ve been blessed; you could not want a better command.”

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.


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