After a career that spanned more than 20 years, Escalon Police Chief Rob Lackey has retired. The retirement took effect as of July 1, 2022; he started with the city in the Public Works Department and ended his tenure as the Chief of Police.
“I need to give the younger ones some time to figure it out; they’re going to take over at some point anyway,” Lackey said of deciding to retire. “I have missed out on a bunch of family time … this (Chief position) is 24-7 and I just feel it needs to be somebody else’s turn.”
Lackey said he leaves with nothing but good feelings for the city, having started here in 2000.
“I was in Public Works first, from 2000 to 2007, and did everything from the treatment plant, the street department, a water operator,” Lackey explained.
He didn’t originally anticipate getting into the police department, but said his interest grew over the years. He became a reserve in 2005 and was encouraged by then-Chief Doug Dunford to pursue that field.
“He said ‘if you’re really interested, go to the Academy and then come see me’,” Lackey shared.
So that’s what he did and ultimately was hired as a fulltime officer for the City of Escalon Police Department in 2007.
“I never really fit the mold for a hard-core police officer,” the chief said. “What you often see is good people having bad days … you are trying to help them navigate through it and still uphold the law.”
Lackey said he learned a lot from the chiefs he worked with, most especially Mike Borges, under whom he served as a sergeant for four years. Borges has been brought back by the city to serve as interim chief while the search for Lackey’s successor continues.
“When Chief Borges announced his retirement, I was debating … I really enjoyed being a sergeant, because I could still be on the street, and do some administrative work,” Lackey explained. “But I was also looking at the culture of the department and I saw a morale level I hadn’t seen in years, he simplified things and kept it progressive; I wanted to continue that so I threw my hat in the ring.”
Taking over as Escalon Police Chief in July of 2020, Lackey said his goal was to continue the good moral and strong police-community relationship. And while he feels he was able to do that to some extent, he also noted that more of his time was devoted to administrative issues and cultivating relationships with a variety of agencies and neighboring communities.
Ultimately, it was getting away from that nuts-and-bolts aspect of police work that prompted Lackey to call it a career.
“It was time,” he said.
He does, however, feel that the department – contract negotiations notwithstanding – is in a good position to continue serving the community and said there are many in the department “that care about Escalon the way I did.”
As far as what Lackey termed the “changing face of law enforcement” he said he always tried to be fair with those he dealt with in the course of his job.
After 22 years of service to Escalon, Lackey said he may now be officially retired but he does plan on staying involved, open to the possibility of working as a volunteer or reserve with the police department in the future.
But that’s after he takes a few weeks off to do “whatever I want” on any given day, and until a new Police Chief is formally chosen and on the job.
“Whoever they get, I will be more than happy to offer any help I can,” Lackey said of his successor. “Escalon treated me really well for almost a quarter of a century. I hope that I treated the community as well as it treated me and my goal was to leave it better than when I found it.”