By Lenny Roberts
Bruce Norris’ tenure as Ojai’s chief of police is coming to an end.
City Manager Jere Kersnar said Wednesday that Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Dunn has been appointed as Norris’ replacement effective Sept. 22.
Kersnar said the decision to approve Dunn was his, noting that members of the City Council do not have input into the selection process.
“The Sheriff’s Office has assigned him here,” Kersnar said, “and I appoint department heads.”
Dunn, a Camarillo resident, brings more than 20 years of law enforcement experience to the position of Ojai’s top cop. He originally served six years in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department before being hired by Ventura County in 1994, where he has served as patrol deputy in Camarillo, Fillmore and Sheriff’s Headquarters in Ventura, and in the Court Services and Major Crimes bureaus. His most recent assignment has been that of watch commander in the Sheriff’s Communication Center.
Dunn was born in Los Angeles and spent several of his childhood years living in a the rural area of Sandpoint in northern Idaho. At 13, his family moved to Camarillo. He graduated from Camarillo High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix in 2004. He is currently working toward a master’s degree in emergency services management at California State University Long Beach. He enlisted in the United States Navy Reserves at 17 and remains an active member. He received a commission in the Navy on June 1, 2007 and currently holds the position of executive officer for Navy Reserve Security Forces at Naval Base Ventura County. He will assume the position of the commanding officer of that reserve unit in November.
Dunn and his wife, Gina, have two teen-aged sons, and are active in their community through coaching youth sports and the Boy Scouts of America program.
In a prepared statement, Dunn wrote, “I look forward to serving the City of Ojai and the surrounding communities in the Ojai Valley area. My wife and I look forward to spending more time in Ojai and taking advantage of the numerous events, festivals, and activities Ojai has to offer.”
Norris replaced former chief Gary Pentis on March 27, 2005. Norris, a 26-year law enforcement veteran at the time, served as watch commander and captain in charge of the Technical Services Bureau, which encompasses the county’s Crime Scene Investigation Unit. Norris, a Ventura resident, said he will return to the duties of watch commander at the Government Center.
Kersnar said Norris will be remembered for being responsive to the community, and for his part in implementing and enforcing Ojai’s Social Host Ordinance — a policy that has since been adopted by the county and several cities.
“The department has done a good job, and Bruce in particular has been the active face of the department by addressing our crime issues as well as some of the social issues,” Kersnar said.
By Lenny Roberts