SANTA CRUZ — After retiring from police careers that have spanned more than 112 cumulative years and included decades of navigation through cash-strapped budgets in the fishbowl of local and state politics, three well-known retired police chiefs in Santa Cruz County are gearing up to hang a new shingle: law enforcement expertise for sale.
Belcher, Ehle, Medina & Associates: A Safety Solutions Co. should be up and running in just a few weeks, according to the founding trio who are busy these days meeting in local cafes and restaurants to hammer out the details of what will be a home-based joint consulting venture.
It is a plan that has been percolating for months. Steve Belcher, who retired in 2003 from his position as head of the Santa Cruz Police Department, has been taking part-time contract work as a municipal and private consultant, including stints as interim chief for East Palo Alto and Soledad. He has consulted with law enforcement-related investigations as well as private projects.
“I’ve probably turned down more jobs than I’ve taken,” he said. “One person can only do so much.”
Belcher, 61, is joining forces with Rick Ehle, 60, who was sworn in as an Oakland police officer in 1972, oversaw a highly sensitive special investigation of the California prison system and retired this year from serving as police chief for Capitola after nine years; and Terry Medina, 63, who retired in January after serving in law enforcement for 42 years, the past 20 years as head of the Watsonville Police Department.
“Between the three of us, I think we can put together a pretty good team,” Belcher said. “I didn’t quit work because I wanted to quit working. I quit because I wanted to try something new.”
The trio is pooling their expertise to offer services to the public and private sectors, drawing as needed from a group of other seasoned law enforcement veterans such as fire department chiefs Bruce Clark and Ron Prince of Santa Cruz and Stephen Cutright of the city of Emeryville. They are each quick to say they don’t want to give up their part-time schedules.
“We want to keep our options open and see how it goes,” Belcher said.
Retirement this year has involved business workshops with SCORE advisers, and endless meetings with financial and legal consultants to flesh out their business plan.
“We’ve done our homework,” said Ehle, who is the son of a business owner, past chairman of the Capitola-Soquel Chamber of Commerce and a board member of the Small Business Development Center. “We wanted to be better-prepared than the average person. We know that 80 percent of all small businesses fail.”
The state retirement system, which encourages early retirement, and the aging of baby boomers both contribute to a growing demand for interim police chiefs, said Bob Murray, whose Roseville-based executive search firm handles “the lion’s share” of police chief searches in California and many others throughout the country. Murray’s firm, Bob Murray & Associates, is currently handling police chief searches for the cities of Morgan Hill, Sausalito and Concord. Earlier this year, the firm agreed to facilitate interim placements for members of the California Police Chiefs Association.
“We’re all kind of a bit Type A and not ready to retire and do nothing,” Ehle said. “Given our personalities and work ethic, I think we’re going to be successful. Each of us has to take a task within the company. It’s exciting to do something and hopefully put your own mark on it.”
At Belcher, Ehle, Medina & Associates, a staff will be available to help with investigations. Belcher has a private investigator’s license and Ehle is getting his now. More than a half-dozen seasoned veterans have expressed interest in working with the group to help with financial, workers’ compensation and other legal issues.
“We all have some things that are special and different that we bring to the table,” Medina said, acknowledging with a bit of laughter that their different personalities create some “great discussions.”
“Steve is the very careful, analytical one — definitely the business guy,” Medina said. “Rick is the perfectionist,” particularly focused on details. “If you sit down with Rick Ehle for dinner or whatever, as you’re talking, he rearranges everything in front of you, the napkins; everything is just so. Me, I’m kind of like a little more big picture, relaxed. People have called me colorful — only because I wear a hat. I try to be the straw that stirs it. We all get along. When we sit down to work on a case or whatever project we’re working on, we should be able to cover it.”
At a Glance
Belcher, Ehle, Medina & Associates: A Safety Solutions Co.
WHAT: Private security consulting firm
WHO: Retired police chiefs Steve Belcher of Santa Cruz, Rick Ehle of Capitola and Terry Medina of Watsonville
CONTACT: 359-0911 or email@example.com
This article was first published here.