Stanislaus County Adam Christianson announced that he will not be seeking re-election when his term comes to a close in 2018.
Christianson's planned retirement at the end of his term will cap off a nearly 30-year career in law enforcement, with the last 12 in the elected position of sheriff.
"Next to my wife and beautiful children, serving as your sheriff has been the greatest experience of my life, and I will miss leading an outstanding team of law enforcement professionals," Christianson wrote in a letter announcing his retirement plans.
"I look forward to spending more time with my family and especially my wife Yvonne, who has patiently and forgivingly accepted all the time I spend away from home in support of the Sheriff's Office and the community we serve," Christianson continued. "This decision did not come lightly, and only after much thought, deliberation, and considering my family goals, I believe I have made the right decision."
Christianson started his career in law enforcement with the Ceres Police Department, before moving on to the Modesto Police Department, and eventually the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department in 1996. His time in the sheriff's department included stints with the K9 unit, high-tech crimes detective, field training officer, and as a bailiff. As a sergeant, he supervised the K9 unit and the satellite office of the Sacramento Valley Hi-Tech Crimes Task Force. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2004and led the Homeland Security Division for the sheriff's department.
Christianson's first election to sheriff was in 2006. During his tenure as the head of the organization, the sheriff's department has opened a new detention center using AB 900 Phase II funds. The center provides 480 maximum security beds as well as housing for 57 medical and mental health offenders and 15 hospital beds. Christianson also oversaw the opening of a day reporting center, a new coroner's facility, the Re-Entry and Enhanced Alternatives to Custody Training Center, and the re-opening of the Sheriff's Regional Training Center.
"The Sheriff's Department is recruiting, hiring and training well qualified, well-educated public safety professionals to continue protecting and serving the residents of Stanislaus County," Christianson wrote in his letter. "I cannot that the community enough for supporting the men and women who work for the Sheriff's Office."
In announcing his retirement, Christianson also threw his support behind Patterson Police Services Chief Jeff Dirkse, who announced his candidacy for the position on Monday.
"I believe Chief Dirkse has the grounded principles and calm decision-making abilities to become the 22nd Sheriff of Stanislaus County," Christianson said.
Dirkse, who is a lieutenant with the sheriff's department, grew up in Turlock and currently lives in Denair with his family on a farm along the outskirts of Denair.
Dirkse is a West Point graduate, a former Army Ranger and National Guard commander who served for nearly a year in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He joined the Sheriff's Department in 2007 as a patrol deputy and became Patterson's chief in May 2015 as part of the county's contract with that city to provide police services.
"I have a broad background in leadership over the last 25 years," Dirkse said. "I led groups of up to 120 soldiers in multinational settings. I've also run my own ag business and understand the needs and desires of private citizens and business owners. I have been a police chief more than two years in a vibrant and growing community.
"All these very rewarding experiences have developed me into the leader that I am today," Dirkse said. "In my campaign, I look forward to meeting people throughout Stanislaus County, and listening to and learning about their concerns."
Dirkse attended Turlock High School, where he was on the football, wrestling and track teams. He also was active in the youth group at Evangelical Free Church, which is now known as Crossroads Church.
In 1990, Dirkse received a nomination to West Point from former Congressman Gary Condit. He graduated from the academy in 1994 as a 2nd lieutenant and was accepted in Ranger school. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Lewis, Wash., commanding 40-man rifle platoons as well as a 15-man anti-armor platoon as part of the 101st Airborne Division and 2nd Ranger Battalion. He left active duty in 1999 at the rank of captain.
After the service, Dirkse began running the family ag business, which includes almonds and a host of other crops on 550 acres. The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, prompted Dirkse to re-enlist in the armed forces and he joined the California National Guard.
"I knew I had to go back in; I just wasn't sure how or where I would serve," he said.
He was put in command of an infantry company, D/1-184 Infantry, headquartered in Oakdale. In 2005, the company was deployed to Iraq and given responsibility for a sector in the Baghdad suburbs.
"We didn't have a lot of battles in the traditional sense, but we dealt with a lot of insurgents and IEDs (bombs)," he said. "We had a zone for my company and we patrolled it every day."
Over the period of the deployment, five soldiers from the company were killed and 80 were wounded. Dirkse earned a Bronze Star for his leadership, along with a Combat Infantryman's Badge, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, an Army Commendation Medal and an Army Achievement Medal.
At the sheriff's department, Dirkse has been a STING detective, a rural crimes detective, a patrol sergeant and an internal affairs sergeant. He also supervised the Explorers for several years and developed an intern program to bring high school graduates into the department at age 18.
"One of my main goals as chief is to develop my sergeants to replace me," he said. "It takes active work by leaders to create, train and mentor the next generation."
Dirkse took a leave from the sheriff's department in 2010-12 when he was mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. He was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where he served as a watch commander for Special Operations Command, Europe.
Dirkse is on the board of the Greater Yosemite Boy Scouts Council, a member of the Patterson Rotary and is an advisory member of the West Modesto Boys & Girls Club.