Detective’s life has taken many paths |

Detective’s life has taken many paths

F.T. Norton

In 1978, Bob Motamenpour left his home town of Tehran, Iran, to study in America. His plan was to earn a degree in environmental science and return to work on the family’s ranch.

But 26 years later, the Carson City Sheriff’s detective hasn’t lived in Iran again, nor has he put that degree to much use – and that’s fine by him.

“I have a good life and a wife that I love very much. I love my job and I look forward to getting up every morning,” he said. “This is my niche. I’ve known it for many years; it just took me a while to get here.”

Motamenpour spent his first 21 years on his family ranch. He thought ranching would be his life, but after serving an obligation in the shah’s Imperial Army, then attending college in the United States, the Iranian revolution made it unlikely that he’d return.

“I knew if I went back I would be taken back into the military under a different regime,” he said. “Where I came from was a very modern country, but the revolution took it back to the Middle Ages.”

He worked odd jobs through college and after graduation, he became a part-time bank teller. For the next 13 years, Motamenpour, 47, worked his way through the ranks, eventually becoming bank manager and a naturalized U.S. citizen. At one point, he and a friend opened a private investigation service on the side, but that didn’t pan out, he said.

In 1990, he went to Canada with hopes of becoming a police officer, but the economy at the time was unstable, and he was back in Los Angeles within a year.

Meeting his wife, Lora, in 1994 brought him to Nevada. Her family lived here, and she brought him for a visit.

“This area hit home for me, topographically. It is very much like Iran – except there’s a little more green there,” he said. “I loved it. She knew I would like it.”

That same year, the couple backed their bags and moved to Carson City. Motamenpour said he immediately took a lucrative banking job, but the lure of law enforcement was too appealing. He quit banking a few years later and entered the police academy in Reno.

He became a park ranger’s assistant. The pay difference didn’t matter, he said.

“My Rolex turned into plastic,” he joked, tapping his black Timex. “My Mercedes became a truck, and my three-piece suit became a uniform. As a matter of fact, I sold my Rolex to buy my first gun.”

After the academy, he was a deputy for a short time in Douglas County then became a deputy in the Carson City Jail.

After four years, he moved to patrol in 2002, and was made a detective in 2003.

He’s been back to Iran a few times since he’s been here, he said, and his mother has visited here. He admits there are things about his homeland he misses: the ranch, which has been in his family for 150 years; the food; and family and friends he hasn’t seen for a while.

But Motamenpour has no plans of living there.

“I’ve lived here longer than I lived there. This is my country,” he said.

He and his wife have their own 13-acre ranch in Lyon County, where they keep their horses.

And his job at the Carson City Sheriff’s Department is fulfilling.

“I really do sincerely feel that everyone here is my friend,” he said. “We help each other here. This is my home.”

Contact F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.