West Marin’s new sheriff’s office watch commander, Lieutenant Jim Hickey, loves every minute of his commute from Novato to the Point Reyes Station substation. “I want to put a GoPro on the hood of my car so I can show my family on the East Coast what my morning commute is like,” he said, three shifts into his new position. The Novato native permanently filled the post left by Lt. Doug Pittman, who has been on sick leave since last summer.
Last Friday, a poster for the 1993 western lawman flick “Tombstone” leaned against the wall behind his office, a parting gift left from his predecessor, and so far the only decoration on his wall was a photo of his departed father, Jim, who also worked for the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, as a deputy.
Lt. Hickey was 31 when he joined the sheriff’s office (he turned 50 last October) and he spent the last two decades boomeranging between patrolling Marin City and working in the county jail. He was a guest deputy in West Marin during the ‘90s and fondly recalled helping former Light publisher Dave Mitchell scour sheriff’s calls in the two-ring binder at the station. A majority of his family members are either in law enforcement or the fire department. (“The dark side,” he quipped.)
While assigned at the jail, Lt. Hickey helped establish a re-entry program that assists the recently released in finding housing or job placements. As both a field-training officer and detective in Marin City, he developed his approach to law enforcement. “If you talk to people in Marin City about me, they’ll say, ‘He’ll arrest you if he needs to, but he’ll talk to you,’” Lt. Hickey said. “I got into law enforcement late, and that’s always been my battle cry to deputies: get out and understand your community. You don’t want anything to go down and not know about it.”
He’s also a believer in what he calls the “10 percent philosophy,” which states that most people are good and only a small minority cause trouble. (“I believe in people,” he said.)
His knack for establishing community relationships and his affable manner make him an ideal replacement, Lt. Pittman told the Light. “Jim is a great fit for West Marin,” he said. “He’s very open and wants to hear any questions and concerns people may have.”
Lt. Hickey and two deputies patrol two beats in West Marin: one north of Olema and the other south. He also serves as the spokesperson for the sheriff’s office in West Marin and is aware of some of the problems facing the area, partly thanks to stakeholder meetings on visitation impacts organized by State Senator Mike McGuire that he’s already begun to attend.
“How do we fix the parking problems in Bolinas?” he asked. “Anybody can strike a rule and enforce it, but how do you get it just right for everybody in the community?”
At home, he’s a married man with two sons and has been coaching football and lacrosse at San Marin High School for many seasons. He and his teenaged son recently finished restoring a 1966 Ford Mustang, and he champions multi-generational collaboration.
“You can’t judge kids by the iPhone, and I bring that same partnership to the deputies out here,” he said. “I teach them what I know and how to embrace things like Nextdoor and Twitter. And I want them to understand that we can be effective by getting out and talking to people.”
Anyone interested in talking with Lt. Jim Hickey can call the substation at (415) 663.1151, or just hail him down in town.