Turlock once again has a permanent police chief as the City Council approved the hiring of Jason Hedden on Tuesday night.
Hedden has most recently been serving as the acting police chief in Los Banos.
Hedden started on the path towards a career in law enforcement at a young age. He started at age 16 as an Explorer for the California Highway Patrol and then the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, serving as the code enforcement officer in Waterford. From there he attended the police academy and graduated in 2004. He went to work for the Los Banos Police Department, serving as a police officer, a gang officer, a detective, and taught the gang education program to elementary students. Over the years he rose through the ranks, and most recently has served as the acting police chief for the last nine months.
“I have always had a desire to serve,” Hedden said. “I think leadership has just been a natural progression of my career. I believe in empowering employees to make decisions and helping them develop and perform at their best. I’m a strong communicator and I believe strongly in listening.”
Hedden earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from California Coast University and a master of science degree in law enforcement and public safety leadership from the University of San Diego. He also is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy.
Hedden and his wife have been residing in Turlock for 16 years. He has three kids, one in college at Stanislaus State and two at schools in the Turlock Unified School District. It was the professionalism of the Turlock Police officers that he saw as a community member that sparked his interest in seeking the police chief position.
“I know firsthand the challenges of working in a smaller community faced with the multifaceted issues of larger, urban departments,” Hedden wrote in his cover letter. “Los Banos is similar to Turlock in many ways in terms of organization, strengths and challenges. I’ve learned to be resourceful and creative in finding solutions to a range of challenges from dealing with homelessness, blight and crime. I love Turlock and hope to use my experience to help a positive impact in the place I raise my family.”
Hedden said he is eager to develop and foster partnerships among the police department and the community, especially with the schools.
“I believe strongly that the key to success is won by the relationships we build with stakeholders at every level,” Hedden said.
Hedden is set to start on Feb. 16, taking over for Gary Hampton, who was appointed interim police chief in August 2021. Before Hampton, Capt. Miguel Pacheco and Capt. Steven Williams both served separate terms at the helm of the department following the retirement of Chief Nino Amirfar in September 2020.
Hedden’s employment agreement includes a salary of $186,354, along with health and welfare benefits, city issued vehicle and cell phone.