LA’s top cop owns property in Minden |

LA’s top cop owns property in Minden

Linda Hiller

We know that our Valley is beautiful. We know that people are flocking here. But you’ll never guess who’s moving to Minden.

Bayan Lewis, Los Angeles Police Department’s interim chief, owns 10 acres in the Wildflower Ridge area and plans to move here sooner or later.

Sooner, if he doesn’t get selected as Reno’s police chief.

Later, if he does.

Lewis, a 34-year veteran of LAPD, was sworn in Tuesday as interim chief, replacing Chief Willie Williams who lost his bid in March for a second five-year term.

Meanwhile, Lewis had applied for the job of Reno Police chief, a position that became available after acting chief Jim Weston and Reno city manager Charles McNeely couldn’t agree on a mutually satisfactory contract, according to City of Reno public information officer Sharon Spangler.

The field of candidates for Reno chief has been whittled down to three individuals, she said. For now, McNeely is reviewing the candidates and will bring his recommendation to the Reno city council “pretty soon,” Spangler added.

“Whatever happens, Debra and I have purchased 10 acres in the Wildflower area and plan to move to Minden/Gardnerville eventually,” Lewis said.

Lewis at 55 is old enough to retire after what will be 35 years with LAPD this summer, but young enough to know that quality of life is an important factor in planning one’s future.

As assistant chief for operations from 1994 to 1997, his salary this year – before becoming interim chief – was close to $145,000 a year. In that position, Lewis coordinated police response to crimes such as the recent bank robbery where the robbers were armed with armor-piercing automatic weapons, rendering citizens and police officers practically defenseless.

According to Spangler, the Reno position will pay somewhere in the $80,000s – a considerable pay cut.

“I have worked for over 34 years as a police officer in the city of Los Angeles,” he said from his home in Agoura, Calif. Wednesday evening, “and I love this city. But it’s time to move on. I’ve made my mark and now I hope to bring my expertise to the city of Reno. I do love Minden/Gardnerville, though. The whole area is so beautiful.”

“Since we bought the land there, Bayan makes me go visit it every now and then,” said his wife, Debra, in a telephone interview from their Agoura home.

Lewis said he has been coming through the Valley for many years on his way to go skiing at the Lake.

“I remember going up Kingsbury Grade and we would always comment on how beautiful it was. Several years ago it occurred to me that this would be a great place to move to eventually.”

“Basically he fell in love with it while driving through,” Debra, said.

The couple has one son, Clinton, 19, who is a college student in California, majoring in business.

“Bayan is so dedicated to his work and it has been so good to him over the years,” Debra said. “All I can do is support him. He knows what he’s doing and that gives me comfort.”

Bayan has two children from a previous marriage, Chad, 30 who is a police officer with LAPD, and a daughter, Aimee, 27, who works for an attorney.

“Chad’s decision to choose this career was entirely his decision. I would not tell him one way or another what to do. For me, there’s not a moment I would change about being on the LAPD,” Bayan said. “It has been very good to me.”

Upon taking the helm in Los Angeles, Debra said Chief Lewis was given a standing ovation by his fellow officers.

“He loves his job and has a great sense of humor,” she said when asked to describe this future Carson Valley-ite.

“When he was sworn in, he said, ‘I am not going to be a caretaker, I plan to make it a smooth transition for the next guy. I’m not going to sit here and look pretty although I am fully capable of doing so,'” she recounted with a laugh.

The couple met years ago when Debra got a speeding ticket and went to traffic school.

“Bayan was the teacher in the class and I kid that we’ve been paying for it ever since,” she said. “That ticket was the best thing I ever did.”

Debra owns Tandem Security, a 19-year-old security guard company with 200+ employees. Moving here will be complicated, she conceded, but somehow they’ll make it happen.

In his 34 years at LAPD, Lewis said he has seen so much change in the city and the force, especially during the last 10 years.

“I have watched Los Angeles change demographically and culturally over the years,” he said. “In order for people to have a comfortable life, they’re having to move to the outer fringes, and the inner city hasn’t regenerated yet.”

He said he’s been subscribing to The Record-Courier so they get a feel for the issues and concerns here.

“I have followed your growth and discussion on growth through the paper and hope the Valley never changes from its beautiful, peaceful setting.”

For now, the Lewis family awaits the verdict in Reno.

“If he doesn’t get the job, the people of Reno will lose a great police chief. It’s still early enough to stop the growth of crime there,” Debra said.

“Reno is a modern town,” Bayan said. “Its business climate is modern and it can benefit from what I’ve learned in Los Angeles over the years.”

As for controversial events involving LAPD, like the Rodney King case and the scandal with Mark Furman, Lewis says the police force has become stronger and better as a result.

“Out of each of these occurrences, I think we grew as a department. I know I have seen change. It opened our eyes to issues that we were maybe ignoring or just weren’t aware of. We have moved quickly to address the issues.”

Whether or not the city of Reno selects Bayan Lewis as their new police chief, the Carson Valley will eventually be gaining two residents who – like so many others – are smitten with the area.

“It’s so beautiful. I want to ski and have horses and relax,” Lewis said.