With one day to go before his retirement starts, Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar is surprised it got here so quickly.
"When I announced it, it seemed so far away," Amirfar said. "I can't believe it's here already. I'm not sure I'm ready."
Amirfar announced his retirement in early March of this year and at the end of his shift on Thursday, he will hand the reins off to Capt. Miguel Pacheco and Capt. Steve Williams. The two men will both serve as interim police chief, in turns, with Pacheco taking the first four months and Williams taking the next four months.
While there are a few items Amirfar might not be able to check off his to-do list, he can look back on a career that has well-served the Turlock community.
"It's about wanting to take care of the community and wanting to make a difference."
Amirfar’s career in law enforcement began in 1989 with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department. The following year he was hired on at the Turlock Police Department. And for a man who would one day lead the department, Amirfar did not start out with an ambition to rise up through the ranks.
"I came to law enforcement with a background in retail and I moved all the way up to assistant store manager," Amirfar said. "In fact, I assisted in opening up the Kmart in Turlock. So, when I came to law enforcement, I didn't want any more responsibility like supervising and management. But as I progressed through my career, I wanted to do more in regards to shaping the organization and having a hand in what I believed a police department should be. That was the reason I decided it was time to move up."
Over his career he has been a field training officer, a member of the bike patrol and the drug suppression unit. He also was the first school resource officer in Turlock and was instrumental in bringing the Every 15 Minutes program to Turlock and Stanislaus County. Recently he came across old photos of winter formals and tailgating before a football game and said he realized that his time as a school resource officer was one he was particularly proud of and that it had a lasting influence on how he viewed policing.
"They had a huge impact on my life and I hope I did on theirs," Amirfar said of the students he met as a school resource officer.
In 2007, Amirfar was promoted to the rank of sergeant and soon after was promoted to a lieutenant. In 2015 he was promoted to the rank of captain and oversaw the Special Operations Division, which includes general investigations, the Narcotics Enforcement Team, Animal Services and the Community Outreach Response and Engagement unit.
Amirfar served as the interim police chief starting in August 2016 and was sworn in to serve as Turlock's 20th police chief on Jan. 24, 2017, which happened to be his mother's birthday. Even though her passing preceded his promotion to chief, Amirfar said having the ceremony on her birthday made him feel like she was part of the celebration.
Amirfar saw firsthand how community policing could be accomplished and the benefits that came with it during his time as a school resource officer. As chief, he sought to recreate it for the entire town and is proud of how his staff took on the mantle of this idea and continues to work towards the goal. He wishes he could have seen his idea for a community advisory board come to fruition, but has faith that Pacheco and Williams will steer it forward.
For the two interim chiefs, Amirfar leaves them with this advice: "Take care of your staff, be fair, do the right thing no matter how hard it is and hold true to your ethics."
Amirfar had one final message as police chief for the Turlock community: "Thank you for always supporting me and trusting me. I'm not going to be going anywhere and I am going to find ways to continue to serve Turlock."
It turns out one of those ways will be as the chairman of the Turlock Police Athletic League.
The community will have a chance to bid Amirfar a farewell from police service during a drive-through retirement party from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the police department at 250 N. Broadway.