There’s already a list of things for Chief Karen Comstock to do when she retires from the Chino Police Department this summer after a 29-year career in law enforcement.
“I plan to play on two ladies’ tennis teams with my spouse and spend more time with my parents and my nieces and nephews," said the 49-year-old Don Lugo High graduate this week. "I also plan to relax and rest."
Chief Comstock, the department’s first female chief, will retire Thursday, July 25 and said she’s going to “miss having a front-row seat to the good police work of the officers with the department.”
When she took over as chief, she explained to her employees they would see the legalization of marijuana and the decriminalization of drugs, and legislation — most notably Props 47 and 57 and Assembly Bill 109 — make their jobs a little more difficult.
She began implementing four areas of strategic vision to deal with those issues, which were crime fighting, community outreach, technology, and training and equipment.
“We have made such progress on all of those areas in four years that I am very proud of where we are at every single point,” Chief Comstock said. “With that, I feel it’s time to place the department in the hands of the next generation of leaders to continue to progressively move the organization forward.”
When she became a Chino Police volunteer while a student at Don Lugo, she said she never imagined she would end her career as chief of police.
“The job is extremely demanding and rightfully so,” she said. “It’s an important position and it’s also a position to be very proud of. I felt a calling to serve the public. I felt a real home here in Chino.”
Chief Comstock’s family moved from the San Gabriel Valley to Chino in the mid-1970s. There wasn’t much south of Chino Avenue, she recalled.
She was a fourth-grade student when Doris Dickson Elementary School opened its doors in 1978 and said students were encouraged to bring jacks, rubber balls and jump ropes from home since playground equipment had not yet been installed.
The chief then attended Ramona Junior High School and Don Lugo High School, graduating in 1987. That same year, she became a Police Explorer with Chino Police.
Two years later, she attended the reserve academy at Rio Hondo in Los Angeles County. In January 1990, she was hired as a reserve police officer by then-Chief Jim Anthony. She became a full-time officer a few months later.
“He is still a mentor of mine to this day,” she said. “In fact, I just had breakfast with him last week.”
She made her way through the ranks with Chino Police and became chief in December 2014, following the retirement of Chief Miles Pruitt.
She won’t miss the commute from her Long Beach home to Chino where she lives with her spouse Donna Cox, a retired Los Angeles Police Department sergeant.
The couple have been together 20 years and they married in 2008.
“We’re planning to travel after I retire,” Chief Comstock said. “We would like to consider moving to Chino.”
She said she’s made a recommendation to Chino City Manager Matt Ballantyne, who will make the choice for the next chief, for her choice to become the next chief: Chino Police Capt. Wes Simmons. She said he’s definitely qualified for the position.
“I also believe that it is important for leadership to change in high-functioning organizations such as the Chino Police Department, for innovation to continue, and for the organization to progressively move forward, and meet the challenges of the profession that are going to happen in the future,” Chief Comstock said.