Meet Chief Charles Husted. The Police Chief of Sedona
Q: What led you to your current career?
A: Initially, coming out of high school, my best friend and I were focused on our future lives. I was dead set on becoming a Pediatrician while he was dead set on being a Businessman/Entrepreneur. We were decent students in high school, 3.5 average, but this was when scholarships were not abundant. So, to pursue those types of careers, you either had to be stellar students or have financial support. We didn’t have either. We decided to start at a community college and figure it out as we went along. I included him in this story because we’re best friends, two peas in a pod, and our future tracks one another. We both worked in fast food at that time, I had an extra job at a gas station, and he worked at a clothing store in the mall. We took an introduction to criminal justice class as an elective. We figured out that this class can’t be too hard, and we knew we needed to have a decent GPA to eventually transitioned to a 4-year university program. We thought it sounded like an easy grade, and neither one of us was the least interested in criminal justice. A recruiter from the Sacramento Police Department visited our class. Fast forward, she ended up being a good friend of mine. She talked about becoming a police officer and the community service officer program within the police department. It was part-time during school, and during summer break, it was full time. The whole idea was to educate potential police officers making sure they had a decent education. All I heard was how much it paid. I sat behind my friend doing the math and told him that we could take that job, work fewer hours than our other two jobs, and make more money. I raised my hand and asked for two applications, and we both applied. We both were hired. I was 19 when I went to the police academy. I got all the training that the police officer would get. I worked for the Sacramento Police Department for 31 years.
Q: Why did you choose to work in Sedona after so many years of working in the Sacramento Police Department?
A: In Sacramento, the city is divided up into four sections within the police department. It’s a large metropolitan area and the state capital. The downtown area is busy all the time. I grew up in East Sacramento, so I knew every street and corner. I became the captain in charge of the quadrant with East Sacramento. Most of my friends are there, my sister still lives there. I believe so much in the work that we do, and I began to see that others didn’t feel as strongly as I did. Some people think it’s just a job, well for me, it is a calling. It’s something I love to do and just happen to get paid for it. I found others weren’t as eager to make things better, and when I noticed those deficiencies, I realized I needed to be promoted to make a change. I figured that I would retire after 30-35 years, so my wife and I started to talk about where that will be? We realized that we didn’t want it to be in Sacramento, so we made a list of places and started traveling. We ended up in Prescott, Arizona. For five years, I didn’t realize that Arizona had a Northern Arizona. I thought it was similar to Phoenix, flat and hot with a bunch of cactus. I love the mountains, and we discovered Prescott. The Chief of Tempe, Sylvia Moir, was someone I had worked with in Sacramento. Two years ago, she called me and said, “It hasn’t been posted yet, but the Chief of Police job in Sedona is going to open, and I think you should apply.” I went home and talked to my wife about the call. We visited Sedona once, and we had a great time. So I thought that maybe this is what I’m supposed to do. We visited Sedona a few months later, and I intentionally went to places that locals would go. I started conversations with people and found everybody to be very friendly. It just felt right. I applied and really had no expectation that I would actually get hired.
Q: Who did you first meet after you said you’d take the job?
A: We went to Steakhouse ’89 for dinner and met the owner as he was walking around greeting people. Fred Shinn, whose a long time volunteer in Sedona, was one of the interview panelists. He told me he knew all about me even before I came out here. I asked him how he knew me. He said, “When you had dinner at Steakhouse 89, I’m friends with Dieter, and he already told me all about you.” What a small world!” Fred was the first person, then almost simultaneously, I met TerrienFrankel. Of course, we went to Steakhouse 89 and met Dieter Lehmann officially.
Q: How long have you lived or worked in Sedona?
A: April of 2019, when I started – about a year and a half.
Q: In that year and a half, have you been able to implement any changes within the police force?
A: Yes. Sedona PD was already a good police department before I got here, so its certainly not me. It’s about having a different perspective with a diverse base of experience. The things I experienced in Sacramento don’t happen here. Still, I’ve learned to foster conversation and communication about how we are going to get better. We’ve done some things, and we still have a lot to do. We are a team. It’s not me; we’re all in this together.
Q: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
A: I told the city manager that I will be here as long as he wants me to be here. He’s my boss. Life is so much different here than in Sacramento. If you wanted to go to the Sierras, you could do it on the weekend. But it’s usually an overnight trip. While here in Sedona, you walk out your door, and you’re on vacation.
Q: How would you like to be remembered?
A: I think it would have to be about having a selfless heart and trying every day to make things better for others. That is really important to me.