Mammoth Police Chief will retire

Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson

Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson

Before Mammoth Police Chief Dan Watson’s arrival four years ago as Interim Chief, the Police Department had been plagued with a grand jury investigation, court incidents and bad publicity generally. When Watson was appointed as permanent Chief 7 months later in 2011, things had changed. The officers and the community responded to Watson’s professional and caring attitude.  Back then, Watson said, “Overall, I’m very pleased and impressed by the caliber of professionalism and dedication by the officers.” He still says those same things today as he prepares to retire at the end of the year.

Chief Watson said he has been considering his retirement “for quite awhile.” He said he gave his notice to Town Manager Dan Holler this week and a formal announcement will be forthcoming. Watson’s last day will be December 29th. Of his stint in Mammoth Lakes, the Chief said, “I’ve enjoyed it, and it’s a good way to wrap up my career.” That career spans 41 years. Watson served as Police Chief of South Pasadena for 8 years before his move to Mammoth Lakes.

Hard times hit the Police Department when they hit the entire Town. The near bankruptcy and big lawsuit debt led to a 60% cut of the Police budget. Did these very hard times contribute to his wish to retire? The Chief said, “It didn’t. If anything, it caused me to stay longer. With 41 years in law enforcement, I could have retired earlier.” He said when the Town Council had to deal with a $2 million per year debt payment and 60% of it was out of his department, the Town was in a state of turmoil. His departure, said Watson, “would have made the situation worse. We needed stability.”

The Chief provided that with his presence. Said Watson, “I decided to stay the course.” Now, he said, the Town is on the mend, the Police Department is stable, and there is a permanent Town Manager who will select the next Chief. Said Watson, “Things have lined up.”

Though they love Mammoth, the Chief and his wife, Kathryn, will sell their home and move back to Southern California. Watson said his wife suffers from chronic high altitude sickness, and needs lower elevations. He called it regrettable and said Mammoth is a wonderful environment.

Watson is a people person and made many contacts and friends in Mammoth Lakes.  He became a part of the society with his considerable participation.  He even thoughtfully answered questions on our website blog when he could shine light on the way law enforcement operates.

What did he like most about his job? Said the Chief, “I really enjoyed the people in the Department. They had been beaten down by a number of things. They responded really well and came through tumultuous times. I enjoy all the people I work with.” Chief Watson said, “Police Departments are families. Somewhat dysfunctional, but very supportive. I leave with a good feeling about what I’ve done here.”



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16 Responses to Mammoth Police Chief will retire

  1. Rick O'Brien June 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    You held it together when everyone else was jumping ship, your reserve officer program saved the town tens of thousands of dollars, and most of all , you were an open book with the community when it came to police matters, something that most Chief’s wouldn’t even consider. A job well done, Chief Dan Watson.
    Those are gonna be some pretty big shoes to fill.

  2. Philip Anaya June 25, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    The Eastern Sierra is going to miss you Chief Watson. Although I miss out on the Mammoth effects, I think that the entire Eastern Sierra has benefited from your tenure as Chief of the Mammoth PD. Your forthright and logical approach to the difficult tasks assigned to you and your Department are a layer of what most everyone would hope that would come from “leadership”. Your work and the effect of your approach to issues and public relations have raised a standard of expection’s about what public servants such as yourself are able to achieve. Thank you for your service and consider staying out of the fray of So Cal . Bishop is an ideal community and I’m sure that it has the perfect home, perfect attitude and altitude for you and your families golden years. We really don’t want to lose a neighbor like you.

  3. chris June 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm #

    Couldn’t agree more with your comments, Rick & Philip. Chief Watson brought an element of class, caring and community to his position. Mammoth will be fortunate to fill his shoes in a like manner.

  4. Dee Younger June 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    Agree with the praise from all three posters above. He is also one fine Rotarian.

  5. Roy June 26, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    Chief, as one that spent 30 years wearing the tan and green I want to thank you for all your years of service to the communities you served…Trust me when I say that retirement will be some of the best times of your life…

  6. Best Wishes June 26, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    I just wanted to send you my best wishes to you and your family. I hope your retirement is wondrous, relaxing, and full of adventures.

    I also wanted to thank you for your service. I appreciated all your responses to the public when they questioned things. You are a wealth of knowledge and thank you for sharing. You brought honor to your position sir and for that I salute you!

    You are very nice man and you will be dearly missed by the community! You were a model Law Enforcement Leader in a county that desperately needed one!

  7. upthecreek June 26, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    2nd retirement in 5 years. Have fun in so cal…aka ” the rat race”

    • Dan Watson June 26, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      Correction, upthecreek. It’s a second retirement after 41 years of service.

      Thanks to the other commenters for your kind remarks. It’s been a pleasure serving the residents and visitors of Mammoth Lakes and working with a fine group of officers and civilian employees.

      • Pops June 26, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

        You know, we got any elevation you want in Inyo County. Come on down!

  8. Dave Levy June 26, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    A real loss for us, but we’re very lucky to have had him. This man’s classy, intelligent, deliberative nature is exactly what we need more of around here…

  9. Susi B June 26, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    What a huge loss for Mammoth Lakes.

  10. gary brennan June 27, 2014 at 12:50 pm #

    Congratulations to Chief Dan Watson, my LAPD Academy Classmate of 1973 and good friend ever since. You are among the best, individually and professionally. You’ve earned your retirement thru outstanding service in LAPD, SO Pasadena and Mammoth Lakes and as a leader within the ranks of law enforcement professionals through out the State of California. I’m very happy for you and Kathy and look forward to some retirement relaxation with you.

  11. upthecreek June 27, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Here is some interesting facts about the TOML.
    Make sure you have a very large jar of Rolaids while reading

  12. MK June 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

    Chief Watson,

    Thank you for serving our community. We are lucky to have you here. I thank you Dan for your service and being part of our community. It is unfortunate you will not be staying after your retirement. Good luck to you and your family. We will miss you.

  13. Trouble June 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    Thank you Chief Watson for having the willingness to communicate with likes of me and many others . I wish you only the best.

  14. Sierra Lady June 28, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    Best Mammoth Lakes Police Chief ever! This community has benefited from your service, expertise and friendship. Thank you for helping to keep the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) going and for starting the VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service) program along with the Reserve Program which has been invaluable to the Town of Mammoth Lakes. You are a great guy and your professionalism and humor will be missed.

    Hoping you and Kathy enjoy retirement tremendously!

    B. Richter
    CERT Historian
    VIPS Volunteer


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