By Linda Davis
Piedmont police Chief John "Rusty" Hunt is retiring after 25 years of service to Piedmont, starting as an officer and working his way through the ranks to become chief for the past four years.
Dispatcher Renee Mohoff, who has been with the department even longer than Hunt, will miss him.
"He's been a good boss. He has treated us (dispatchers) as equals even though we are not sworn officers, and always been open-minded. When he tells us no, he explains why," Mohoff said. "I don't want him to leave, but I am happy for him moving on. He deserves it."
Hunt's last day of work will be June 22. The following week he moves out of state, taking with him three young children, his wife, two cats, two dogs, three fish tanks and a lot of memories.
He originally planned to retire on Dec. 12, 2012, having a "thing" for the number 12. But the sale of Hunt's Danville home happened quicker than anticipated, and the family didn't want to rent for the few remaining months.
They decided to relocate to a place with a slower pace, good health services and good schools. They chose Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, after also scoping out several states west of the Mississippi, including Montana and Colorado.
He looked back on the years.
"This has made for a nice career," Hunt said. "The citizens have been so supportive toward our agency. I worked with a good bunch of people and I'm proud of all of them," he said.
City Administrator Geoff Grote lauded Hunt's service.
"In his 25 years, he held every rank from patrolman to chief," Grote said. "His leadership brought forth new training, and a rewriting of police department policies.
"He took great interest in the recruitment of new officers, bringing in a talented and diverse group of new hires. He has served with distinction. He will be missed."
Hunt was hired in August 1987, after working four years for San Pablo police fresh out of college. Growing up in the Montclair area he always had an "affinity for Piedmont." He started out studying accounting, then switched major at Sacramento State to criminal justice, where he attained a bachelor's degree. Later, he acquired a master's in public administration from Cal State East Bay.
Piedmont Capt. Scott Wyatt shared an office for awhile with Hunt, and respected his judgment and management style.
"He decided things he wanted to accomplish and would go ahead and push forward," said Wyatt, who's been with Piedmont for six years and plans to apply for the job as chief. "He's a very congenial guy. But he could say no to things without apologies. We worked great collaboratively."
Councilwoman Margaret Fujioka said, "Chief Hunt was a key player in the success of the Public Safety Committee and I appreciate his strong support for the new initiatives that have enhanced public safety in our city. I wish him the very best."
Hunt recalled one vivid memory during his tenure, of dealing with the Oakland hills fire in 1991 on the first day he became sergeant. He will miss the community and his staff, but is eager to start a new life chapter.
"You wish everyone well and go on with your life," Hunt said.
The family bought a home in Coeur d'Alene and are moving from Danville the last week of June. Hunt might consider doing some volunteering for the local police department there, but mostly he wants time to enjoy his young children "and shuttle them around to school, sports and activities," he said.
He is sticking to the number 12.
"We will be on a cruise through the Panama Canal on Dec. 12," he said.