Sheriff Keith Royal working at solving community issues
For Keith Royal, being a sheriff must run in the family. His father, his identical twin brother, another brother, a nephew and a son-in-law all wear the sheriff badge in Sacramento, where Royal also worked as a sheriff for 25 years before taking over the top position here in Nevada County four years ago.
Royal’s father was killed in the line of duty when Royal was 16 years old. “I was so proud of my father. I am honored to have followed in his footsteps and to see others in my family follow the same tradition,” he said.
Royal oversees 200 employees and 250 volunteers from his office in the Rood Center, off highway 49. We spoke about his job and life in Nevada County in January, just as the New Year began.
“In 2003, we will continue to expand Our Community Oriented Policing program, called ‘COPP’ for short, which has trained officers in problem solving and working with the community to find out their priorities and concerns,” Royal said.
From input in community meetings, community associations, phone calls and from having officers out on old fashioned ‘beats’, the officers work to provide the services that will improve the overall quality of life.
They have found that ‘quality of life’ issues such as loud stereos, loud parties, speeding cars, barking dogs and domestic violence are significant concerns. In one neighborhood, after numerous complaints of speeding cars, sheriff volunteers stationed in patrol cars created high visibility and quickly cut down on the problem. “We had a lot of grateful residents call in to thank us for resolving that problem,” he said.
“Our many volunteers are ambassadors for us. Some do administrative work, some serve civil papers, others cruise in the patrol cars marked ‘citizen patrol’, but they represent us, another visible representation of the law,” Royal said.
Because Nevada County is among the 19th smallest counties in the state, we are eligible to receive $500,000 in rural law enforcement funds. These funds have helped finance a new radio system, providing new frequencies and enhanced voice transmission, which will be implemented shortly. Also, computers in the patrol cars will greatly increase efficiency and dispatching.
Royal attributes the low crime rate of our county, one half of the state average, to the quality of law enforcement as well as the quality of the people of the county.
He also feels that the partnership that exists between the law enforcement and fire services agencies in our county could be a model statewide. “Other sheriff’s offices feel envious of how our agencies all work together to meet the needs of the community. We also have great camaraderie. When we get together for meetings, we pick on each other. The friendships are great,” he said.
Talking about the upcoming Red Light Ball, Royal beamed. “Don’t miss it. It’s the best party around.”
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