Napa’s new chief of police hopes to carry on the mission of the previous one.

“I truly believe that in law enforcement, it’s the police department’s job to be part of the community, to become that conduit, the glue,” longtime Las Vegas lawman Robert Plummer said Monday afternoon after taking the oath of office at City Hall from city clerk Dorothy Roberts.

Arriving in Napa after a 27-year career in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Plummer, 50, praised the work of his predecessor Steve Potter in neighborhood engagement and listening to residents’ concerns – and pledged to take the same attitude in winning the trust of his new townsfolk.

“We can’t arrest our way out of problems,” he told an audience of more than 100 people that included his two adult daughters and his wife, Richene, who pinned the badge of his new office onto his dark-blue uniform. “We have to be part of the process to solve problems in the community.”

Plummer was one of 67 people to apply for the city’s top police post after the departure announcement by Potter, who is becoming Napa’s interim city manager to replace the retired Mike Parness. After the city cut down the list to six finalists, a panel of city staff and Napa residents chose three candidates whom Parness interviewed.

In more than a quarter century with the Las Vegas police, Plummer served in a variety of departments, retiring in May as head of the force’s homicide and sex crimes bureau. But his introduction to the next step in his career began with perhaps the most typical of outsider experiences – a wine-country honeymoon he and Richene took in 2004.

“My wife planted the seed: ‘I’d really love to live in Napa,’” recalled Plummer, who was born in San Francisco but moved with his family to Las Vegas as a child. “I was a motor cop at the time and I was like, ‘Yeah, I don’t think that’s gonna happen,’” he said to the audience’s hearty laughs.

But after resuming his education – including earning a degree in administrative leadership from the University of Oklahoma – Plummer rose through the ranks and ultimately became commander of a Las Vegas police district with a population of 140,000 and a 189-person staff. That responsibility, he said Monday, has helped ready him for the tasks of keeping safe a community of Napa’s size.

“We realized that what Napa had to offer, is something that we wanted to be part of when it came time to retire and leave the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas,” Plummer said of himself and his wife, who began as a Las Vegas police dispatcher and retired in 2009 as a communications supervisor.

Dressed in his new dark-blue chief’s uniform, Plummer made no immediate promises except to get to know his new hometown well – and to carry out what has already worked in keeping Napans safe and secure.

“Nothing’s broken,” he said after the ceremony. “I’m trying to find out what I can enhance.”

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City of Napa/Town of Yountville Reporter

Howard Yune covers the city of Napa and the town of Yountville. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.