There are people you meet along the way who surprise you over and over again. Retired Morro Bay police Chief John DeRohan is one of those unique people.
At first blush he models the “top cop” one would expect — tall, even imperial; slender — gently aged but fit enough to chase the bad guys; solemn, all-business — even aloof — ready to rule with his nightstick more than his dress-white gloves.
If you ask him to describe his leadership style, he’ll say he’s a systems-organizational guy. He envisions the plan and sets the direction.
At his recent retirement celebration, it was obvious he was so much more to those who have taken the time to know and work with him.
DeRohan was destined to be a mechanic and tow truck driver before the Oceanside Police Department in San Diego County recruited him in 1979. In 1992, he moved to the Pismo Beach police, and then joined Morro Bay as commander in 2002. He was hired as chief in 2004. His biggest recurring crime was battling a constantly shrinking budget and keeping officers in the trenches.
His protégé, now chief, Tim Olivas recognized his stewardship and friendship.
Many attributed his contagious good humor a welcome reason to come to work even in tough times. They were comfortable poking fun at his signature mustache, his closetful of Hawaiian shirts, his inopportune grumbling stomach needing a lunch fix, and his dune buggy beach patrol in police issue shorts.
Then the accolades for what were described as his on-the-job successes, such as the Morro Bay Citizens Academy, technology upgrades, his aggressive stance against medical marijuana stores, Rotarian of the Year, caring Drug Abuse Resistance Education officer, and bringing the coveted “sweet ride” black-and-white Dodge Charger back to Morro Bay.
He combined his organizational skills and sensitive side to design and execute the Peace Officer’s Memorial Ceremony at Morro Rock — a proud day without a dry eye seaside.
Pismo Beach Chief Jeff Norton and retired Cmdr. Scott Smith said what most felt, “… rock solid … kept us going during the political turmoil ... always concerned about the people he worked with …”
DeRohan summed it up. “It’s been a quick week — great couple of days. I was honored to be grand marshall of the Morro Bay car show. My family did a great job decorating the community center Hawaiian-style, and so many friends are here. It’s been a great career — a great ride.”
Well, chief, Robyn and your boys, Collin and Robert, will enjoy more of your time and crime prevention will go on in Morro Bay, but we’ll miss your service and your “Morro Rock-solid” style.
Reach Judy at 801-1442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.