Legislative police get new boss

Gary Metz says his Legislative Police Department may be small but it's certainly not short on experience.

"We only had 23 officers but I added it up and during session last time we had 526 years of law enforcement experience," he said.

Metz has just been named chief of the department, replacing Wayne Hurte who retired on disability.

He's in time for the coming legislative session but it's not as though he's got to introduce himself to the troops and get up to speed before February. He's been with the department since 1991 and, in fact, is the fourth chief in a row named from within the department's ranks.

Contrary to what many visitors think when they walk in the Legislative Building, the officers behind the desk and in the halls aren't security guards. They're fully trained, sworn police officers with the authority to arrest anyone who breaks the law.

And, Metz points out, some of the state's most experienced cops.

"They're all retired from other police departments," he said. "And they've about seen it all."

That includes not only the eight permanent members of the force but the 15 "session hires" who work only during the legislative sessions.

Metz is a good example himself. He retired from the Los Angeles Police Department after 22 years service, about half of it in specialized units including intelligence, narcotics and "bunco" - fraud and forgery.

That experience and a bit of gray hair, he said, fit in well with what they do at the Legislature.

"We're here for problems, but problems don't pop up that often," said Metz. "Most of our work is public relations."

Typically that involves calming someone down at a committee meeting - usually a member of the public or an advocate unfamiliar with the legislative process.

"The people we have can usually talk someone down, quiet them down," he said. "We don't have any problems with the regulars," he said referring to the lobbyists and others there on business.

Metz, 59, was born and raised in Los Angeles. But after retiring and spending several years doing internal investigations for a bank, he and his wife wanted a change. They had visited the Carson-Douglas area to see family a number of times.

"I told my wife, you know that little town Minden sure is beautiful," he said.

It didn't take much convincing.

The only problem with the area, he said, is that you can't play golf all year.

That's OK. The couple still has family in Southern California where they headed this weekend for a final break before the legislative session opens Feb. 4.

"The clubs are already down there and I've got five tee times lined up for the time we're down there," he said.

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