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KGET: Local News

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    MCFARLAND, Calif. - The city of McFarland was awarded $244,426 as part of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program.

    McFarland was one of 12 cities in California to receive funds from COPS, which expects to award $124 million for creating and securing law enforcement positions across the country. A total of $6.7 million was distributed to the Eastern District of California.

    "The COPS Office is pleased to assist local law enforcement agencies throughout the country in addressing their most critical public safety issues," said COPS Office Director Ronald L. Davis. "Funding from this year's program will allow many cities and counties to apply new sworn personnel to issues related to violent crime, property crime, and school safety."

    The hiring program provides salaries and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years. COPS says the grantees of the 2014 program were selected based on fiscal needs, local crime rates, and community policing plans.

    The entire list of COPS Hiring Program grantees is available at the COPS website.

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    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Kern County residents in need of hospice care can expect some changes soon, with a new partnership between Dignity Health and Hoffmann Hospice.

    The two companies announced Tuesday that Hoffmann Hospice would be taking over operation of the Dignity Health Mercy Hospice service line.

    The transition is expected to take at least 30 days. The companies stated that they hope to retain all staff once the transition is complete, and that hospice patients will experience no interruption of services.

    This new arrangement comes as Hoffman Hospice plans to open the Hoffmann Home in 2015. The facility would be Kern County's first and only hospice home, providing services to 1,800 families.

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    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Kern County Sheriff's Office has released information about a woman found dead in her home on Sept. 18 to be a homicide.

    Yolanda Hernandez, 36, was found unresponsive in her residence in the 21000 block of Adobe Road by KCSO, who determined she was dead.

    A postmortem examination noted the cause of death was blunt force trauma and determined the manner is homicide.

    KCSO is investigating the incident.

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    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Oildale residents won't have to go to far now to shop at Walmart with a new location opening up on North Chester.

    Doors opened today to the "neighborhood style" Wal-Mart at 7:30 a.m. The concept store is about one-fifth the size of the box-style store's traditional size.

    The store offers a smaller-scale grocery area, plus, a deli, bakery and pharmacy; it'll be open 24 hours.

    The 41,000 square foot store is the only Wal-Mart neighborhood store in Bakersfield.

    During today's grand opening, the North High School Chamber Choir was on-hand to sing the National Anthem.

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    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question that parents are asking this flu season.

    "Yes I get it for both my children and myself and my husband; it's just a way to prevent even a bit even one of the flu strands," said Bakersfield mom Shannon Boren. "I think it's a preventative way to help your children out."
    Some say the vaccine is preventative, while others say it just makes kids sick.
    "I don't understand the point in injecting yourself with the flu virus if you're just going to be sick from it anyways," said Sean Abney.
    Experts say though there is speculation among parents, the flu vaccine is still recommended for children.
    "You should get the vaccination. Why? Because the vaccination not only protects the child it also protects whoever is around the child," said Dr. Fernando Fan,  a pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente.
    Dr. Fernando Fan is a pediatrician and a parent. He vaccinates his children, and admits that the flu vaccine can make patients feel as though they've gotten sick. But he says that means it's working.
    "This year I had muscle aches for a few days after i got my flu shot and I couldn't figure out why I was a little tired for a couple days," said Dr. Fan. "Then I thought, oh, it's the vaccine. So it's your body's immune system kind of revving up which is good. It only took a couple days."
    This year the Centers for Disease Control started recommending for children ages two to eight to receive the nasal spray flu vaccine because it can increase efficacy.
    "The flu mist protects you in the mucus membranes, so tear duct area, eyes, nose, mouth. These are the places that the virus gets into your body. And so it will protect there, take out the virus, and then sometimes even before the virus makes you start to get sick," said Dr. Fan. "Whereas the shot will protect you once it gets into your body which you know may be a step behind."
    Whether nasal spray, flu shot, or nothing at all, Dr. Fan says parents always should have the final decision.
    For those parents who do decide to vaccinate their children, San Joaquin Community Hospital has free child immunizations starting today for the entire month of October. For more information call 869-6740.

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    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The family of Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was killed early morning on Sunday on Sept. 28, when a Kern County Sheriff Deputy crashed his vehicle with hers, is now suing the sheriff's department.

    The law offices of Chain, Cohn, and Stiles released information today announcing the law suit as well as detailing information about 72-year-old Garrett and her involvement with the community.

    Garrett died when sheriff's deputy Nicholas Clerico collided his cruiser with her vehicle at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale. 

    According to officials with the California Highway Patrol, Deputy Clerio was responding to the nearby Longbranch Saloon when the accident occurred just before 2 a.m. 

    It is also reported that Clerico had his siren and lights on but is still under investigation whether the signal light was red.

    The CHP's Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) is currently investigating the incident.

    According to a CHP spokesperson, when approaching an intersection, an officer has to take into account the safety of the people in that intersection and proceed at a slow and safe speed, safely clearing the way before 

    A sheriff's department spokesperson said deputy Clerico has been with the department for three and a half years. 

    He was treated for for a concussion and head injuries. 

    Chain, Cohn, and Stiles also represented the family of Daniel Ace Hiler, who was hit and killed by Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy John Swearengin more than two years ago. That case resulted in a combined $8.8 million settlement.

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    Pierson has been under fire since the White House jumper incident, raising questions security.


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    BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Kern County Board of Supervisors have signed a contract yesterday with an independent organization to manage Kern Medical Center. 

    In a unanimous vote, the board added more than $5 million to the contract with KMC management to hire a Chief Medical Officer and a hospital performance team. 

    However, some officials are saying the amount is much more than the county can afford.

    "SEIU recently asked for minimum wage for county workers here be raised just 10 cents above the state's minimum wage," said SEIU member Tom Webster. "The request was denied based on cost. We asked that the seven people being laid off at KMC receive medical coverage through the end of the year at a one-time cost of $24,000. We were denied due to cost. And today we're talking about spending $5.2 million for a private contract."

    According to supervisors, the investment should result in cost-saving operational efficiencies at KMC in the future. They added that if it doesn't, the contract will be pulled.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Police have arrested three suspects who they believe were involved in a string of 10 burglaries throughout Bakersfield on the same day.

    Isaiah Ramos, 18, Daniel Gomez, 19, and Amber O'Rear, 20, were arrested for Robbery, Possession of Stolen Property and Conspiracy Wednesday.

    The Bakersfield Police Department believes them to be responsible for robberies that occurred between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. near South High School, Valhalla Drive, Akers Road, and the Valley Plaza.

    Police say victims of the robberies reported a similar suspect vehicle and suspect descriptions, with one able to provide a partial license plate number.

    The arrests occurred after BPD received a call about a peace disturbance in the 5500 block of Wonder Lane, where the suspects and a vehicle matching the victims' earlier descriptions were located.

    Police say at least one robbery victim identified one of the suspects, and they were arrested without incident.

    Trent Reed, 19, was also arrested at the location, after officers found him to have violated his parole with possession of a firearm.

    The investigation of the robberies is on-going, and police say the suspects may face additional charges.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Three men were arrested in southwest Bakersfield Monday, after a homeowner witnessed one of them allegedly attempting to break into his house on his smartphone.

    The Bakersfield Police Department says that 18-year-old Zacheary Keys was identified by several callers as the suspect seen in a homeowner's video surveillance system attempting to break into a residence in the 9100 block of Whitman Avenue.

    After detectives made contact with Keys, he reportedly admitted to the offense, and four others. Dallas Muniz, 18, and Dontrel Louis, 18, were identified by detectives as co-conspirators with Keys, and subsequently arrested.

    Police say the homeowner posted a photograph of the intruder on the internet, leading to citizens calling BPD and identifying Keys.

    All three suspects were arrested for four counts each of Burglary and Attempted Burglary, and five counts of Conspiracy.

    Police encourage anyone with information regarding this case to contact BPD at 661-327-7111.

    Anonymous text messages can be sent to 274637 by sending BPDCRIMES along with a message.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - George Dean was arrested for the murder of his son, Jonathan, Wednesday afternoon.

    Jonathan Saavedra Dean, 29, was shot and killed in the driver's seat of his car on Silver Dollar Way August 10.

    George Dean has been charged with murder, conspiracy, and oral copulation. Police say the oral copulation charge is related to a sexual relationship with one of the juvenile co-conspirators in the murder.

    Police believe the shooting was a contract killing George Dean hired a teenaged hitman to gun down his adopted son, according to police reports released in September.

    16-year-old Gabriel Rodriguez, a close family friend of the Dean family, initially told detectives he was with Dean when four masked men surrounded the car in the residential neighborhood and ordered the teens to hand over their cellphones. Rodriguez told detectives he fled for his life, running all the way back to the Dean family home, only to return and find Jonathan Dean shot in the head.

    Police suspect that may have been a lie, that Rodriguez was the triggerman hired by George Dean father for $20,000, to execute his son.
    Detectives reported in September that the plot began to unravel when they interviewed Rodriguez shortly after the shooting. Rodriguez led authorities to another teen, Timothy Hill, who admitted he was with Rodriguez that night of the shooting and helped Rodriguez discard a 9 mm handgun. Hill led officers to a trash can at a home in the 3000 block of Crescent Ridge St. in Bakersfield, where detectives say they recovered what they believe was the murder weapon.

    Hill related to detectives George Dean offered to pay Rodriguez $20,000 to carry out the hit, and that he would receive some of the money upfront, and some of it after the killing was carried out. Rodriguez purchased the gun for $500, Hill said. George Dean ordered the hit because he was mad his son Jonathan had sexual relations with an underage, handicapped girl, Hill said.

    Hill reported he received a call on the night of August 10 from Rodriguez ordering him to go to Silver Dollar Way where he met 22-year-old Eric Gonzalez. Dean's car approached a short time later, stopped, and Rodriguez walked over and handed them his Apple iPhone.

    Rodriguez retrieved the handgun from his waistband, walked over to Dean's car and shot Dean in the left side of the head, Hill said. Hill reported he brought a backpack with a set of extra clothes and WD-40 spray. After the shooting Rodriguez sprayed his arms and hands with WD-40 indicated it would prevent the detection of gunshot residue, Hill said.

    Hill and Rodriguez were caught on surveillance video from a nearby business fleeing the area, according to the police reports. When confronted with the evidence Rodriguez requested an attorney, detectives said.

    When interviewed by detectives Gonzalez denied participating in the murder. Though, he admitted to talking with Rodriguez about the hired hit, and said Rodriguez offered to pay him $25,000 to commit the crime. Gonzalez said he declined, but was told by Rodriguez that Jonathan Dean had $250,000 worth of life insurance policies.

    A relative of Gonzalez told detectives Gonzalez left the night of the murder saying he had to go to work. She then reported Gonzalez called her around 1 a.m. asking to be picked up at a security company where he was dressed in a black shirt and black cargo pants. The relative said the next day, she and Gonzalez drove to a home to retrieve a bag of marijuana that was reported to have been left there for him and that Gonzalez became agitated when the marijuana couldn't be located.

    George Dean denied ordering a hit on his son when he was interviewed by detectives the day after the shooting. Dean said there were two life insurance policies on his son.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Bakersfield is painting the town pink in October. It's all for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    Wednesday afternoon, supporters and survivors led the 31 days of kicking cancer to the curb with the Links for Life Lace'n It Up Walk.

    They want the color pink to be a reminder to get screened for breast cancer.

    At the Liberty Bell, each ring, came from someone who beat breast cancer and is still swinging in the fight against it. Mary VanBlake is among them.

    "When I was diagnosed, I didn't want anybody to know," said VanBlake.

    Now, a seven year survivor, she's happy to wear a bra as a hat, joining the rest making up a sea of pink on a walk for breast cancer awareness.

    "I had mammograms done every year and if I would have missed that one year I would have been in stage four," said VanBlake.

    "They are out and educating and telling the community, hey, I survived you need to get in. You'll survive. And it's just, it's a sisterhood that just moves people," said Jennifer Henry, Executive Director of Links for Life.

    The power of the pink paraded through downtown Bakersfield. Each of the over 900 wristbands sold at the Downtown, Riverwalk, Taft and Belridge walk locations Wednesday will help pay for screenings and cancer services in our community, like they did for Steve Hamblet's wife.

    "We're never alone. This community of breast cancer survivors is an amazing group. These women are so strong. So, we kind of got our inspiration from the outside," said Hamblet.

    In the last year, nearly 800 women got screened or had biopsies thanks to Links for Life. Seven of those women under 40 were found to have breast cancer.

    But each bell that rang Wednesday is a battle cry to support, survive, and walk stride by stride together. Because, like Mary VanBlake knows, there's no hiding, just fighting.

    "I got tired of upstairs to my room and crying every time some one would call me or every time somebody would send me a card. And, I said I'm going to fight this and I've been fighting ever since," said VanBlake holding back tears.

    In case you missed Wednesday's walk, another walk is being held this Saturday in Tehachapi at the West Park Activity Center. Registration is at 8:00 am. The walk starts at 9:00 am.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -  A service will be held today for former Bakersfield police chief Eric Matlock.

    The service is on Thursday, Oct.2 at 1 p.m. and held at Hillcrest Memorial Park and Mortuary, 9101 Kern Canyon Road.

    The service is open to the public.

    Matlock passed away last week after a three year battle with cancer.

    He was appointed chief in 1999 worked in every division of the department in his 34 year career.

    Matlock was the department's first black police chief.

    He retired in 2004 at the age of 55.

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    Of the 7,751 students who attend Delano Union School District's pre-K through eighth grade schools, 98 percent of those students went to school every day last year. In the first three months of this school year only one percent of students have missed school.

    Here's how the district gets kids to show up. 

    All 12 district schools have a health clinic. Six nurses rotate to each campus and provide on site medical care usually for asthma, which often keeps kids from school.

    "Asthma is a huge concern especially here in the valley. We're seated in the agricultural area here, there are lots of almond trees, lots of almond shaking, lots of students who react to that," said Linda Hinojosa, RN, Health Services Coordinator. "So we have students that bring their inhalers to school, we have inhalers here on campus particularly if they're too young to use it themselves that a nurse or school staff can help administer that medication."

    There's also an attendance clerk at each school who reports daily which students are absent and calls parents to find out why kids are missing. The clerk dispatches Delano police officers to door knock at homes for unexcused absences.

    To serve migrant families the district has set up a space for computer use, a library, and teachers dedicated to helping with homework and test prep.

    "Many districts do not have the same kind of success that Delano has and I truly believe its been a community effort here that's established a culture and just as expectation and belief system where everyone really works hard to make sure kids get to school so they have the opportunity to learn," said Superintendent Anthony Monreal.

    The district wants students to learn how important showing up is now and in the future.

    "When you're expected to be somewhere and you're expected to be on time, and you're expected to perform, that's also teaching a lifelong skill for college, for careers," said Dr. Christina Luna, Assistant Superintendent. "So it's college and career readiness also that we expect our students to be on time."

    The district says they hope to have 100 percent attendance by the end of this school year.

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    FRESNO, CA - Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency will be in Fresno this morning to announce millions in spending for local infrastructure and to control water pollution.

    The EPA also approved $51 million to Fresno for the installation of water meters.

    The funding will be used for a wide variety of water quality projects, including pollution control, water and energy efficiency projects, drinking water infrastructure improvements and traditional municipal wastewater treatment projects, according to officials.

    In January, Gov. Brown declared a drought state of emergency and state law requires home water meters by 2025. 

    Officials added that since the installation of the meters was completed in Fresno in 2014, water usage has decreased by 25 percent.

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    SACRAMENTO, CA - California schools receive more than$1.3 billion in lottery funds for the year.

    State Controller John Chiang today announced that payments from the Lottery Education Fund were released to school districts, educational institutions and state agencies.

    Payments are made to county treasurers, who then distribute the money to K-12 schools and community colleges.

    For the fourth quarter of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the Controller apportioned $375 million from the Lottery Education Fund.
    The Controller's Office makes quarterly payments based on Lottery income and unclaimed online prizes

    The total lottery funds released for this fiscal year totals $1,348,701,538.34.

    Below is a breakdown of where the money is going.

    Entity and Amount Paid:
    K-12 -- $1,088,290,145.06
    Community Colleges -- 182,343,573.23
    California State University -- 46,644,561.17
    University of California -- 30,835,592.10 
    Hastings College of the Law -- 142,926.42
    Dept. of Youth Authority -- 52,828.12
    Dept. of Education – State Special Schools -- 115,606.99
    Dept. of Developmental Services -- 276,305.25
    Individual School District and Institution Quarterly payments are available on the State Controller's website. Total fiscal year payments by county are listed below.
    County Amount Paid
    ALAMEDA -- $47,431,636.18
    ALPINE -- 26,297.20
    AMADOR -- 680,213.49
    BUTTE -- 7,049,239.04
    CALAVERAS -- 993,158.87
    COLUSA -- 731,777.45
    CONTRA COSTA -- 34,828,345.81
    DEL NORTE -- 615,645.73
    EL DORADO -- 4,752,997.89
    FRESNO -- 39,408,669.66
    GLENN -- 988,154.14
    HUMBOLDT -- 3,911,566.69
    IMPERIAL -- 7,164,133.84
    INYO -- 733,635.26
    KERN -- 34,077,437.50
    KINGS -- 4,925,248.28
    LAKE -- 1,490,111.31
    LASSEN -- 941,730.41
    LOS ANGELES -- 332,668,026.68
    MADERA -- 5,214,850.97
    MARIN -- 6,318,180.59
    MARIPOSA -- 290,954.22
    MENDOCINO -- 2,931,552.90
    MERCED -- 10,948,803.41
    MODOC -- 232,487.51
    MONO -- 329,656.42
    MONTEREY -- 15,479,143.91
    NAPA -- 4,494,918.03
    NEVADA -- 2,057,514.28
    ORANGE -- 106,451,673.25
    PLACER -- 14,465,902.96
    PLUMAS -- 653,255.42
    RIVERSIDE -- 78,091,519.80
    SACRAMENTO -- 49,555,451.78
    SAN BENITO -- 1,815,849.18
    SAN BERNARDINO -- 75,541,480.16
    SAN DIEGO -- 102,459,303.85
    SAN FRANCISCO -- 15,299,874.60
    SAN JOAQUIN -- 26,552,652.24
    SAN LUIS OBISPO -- 7,137,093.17
    SAN MATEO -- 19,761,598.75
    SANTA BARBARA -- 15,510,387.43
    SANTA CLARA -- 59,226,680.79
    SANTA CRUZ -- 8,924,777.67
    SHASTA -- 5,752,126.64
    SIERRA -- 66,546.65
    SISKIYOU -- 1,438,068.49
    SOLANO -- 11,924,286.06
    SONOMA -- 15,143,126.73
    STANISLAUS -- 20,575,040.27
    SUTTER -- 3,693,140.59
    TEHAMA -- 1,761,811.25
    TRINITY -- 280,908.89
    TULARE -- 18,868,767.67
    TUOLUMNE -- 988,490.59
    VENTURA -- 28,527,413.07
    YOLO -- 4,927,650.05
    YUBA -- 3,522,752.62

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A jury found Alejandro Leon guilty this morning of first-degree murder in the death of a woman whose body was found in an East Bakersfield fire pit in May.

    The coroner's office determined 31-year-old Evelyn Chuca died of multiple stab wounds.

    Her body was found in a fire pit at a home on Edison Highway.

    We'll have more details ahead on 17 News at Noon.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA -  Local law enforcement officials arrested a subject wanted on outstanding felony warrants.

    The California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team, with assistance from Kern County Sheriff's K-9 Officers, arrested 37-year-old Charles Anthony White.

    White was spotted in the 300 block of Wilson Avenue in Oildale, then found hiding in an apartment with 27-year-old Amber Sanders.

    He was arrested without incident and booked for his three outstanding warrants which included charges related to possession of narcotics, possession of weapons, and obstructing a peace officer.  

    White is being held without bail in county jail and Sanders was booked on charges related to obstructing or delaying a peace officer.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - A coalition of local law enforcement agencies recently made two arrests of local suspected narcotics traffickers, seizing methamphetamine and Heroin in the busts.

    The first arrest was made after an investigation into 26-year-old Jessica alvarez, who is suspected of trafficking methamphetamine.

    A search warrant was obtained for her residence in the 2200 block Butterfield Avenue, where approximately five and a half pounds of suspected Methamphetamine was seized with more than $5,000 in US currency.

    Officials estimate the Methamphetamine could have a street value in excess of $200,000.  

    Alvarez was booked into the Kern County Jail on various narcotics related charges as well as child endangerment charges.

    And in a separate, unrelated bust, 48-year-old Bakersfield resident Jose Luis Alvarez(unrelated to Jessica Alvarez) was arrested for trafficking in heroin throughout the Bakersfield area.

    After an investigation, officers were able to locate Alvarez at his residence and were granted a search warrant for his property and vehicles.
    Officers located just under two pounds of suspected Heroin hidden in various locations on the property.  Also located was just under $5,000 in US currency, believed to be proceeds from the sales of the Heroin, according to the report.

    Alvarez was arrested for narcotics related charges as well as child endangerment charges.  

    The heroin reportedly has a potential street value of approximately $80,000.

    The coalition was made up of officers from the California Multi-Jurisdictional Methamphetamine Enforcement Team, with assistance of the Sheriff Office Major Violators Unit, Central Valley HIDTA and the Bakersfield Police K-9 Unit.

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    BAKERSFIELD, CA - Friends, family and colleagues paid tribute Thursday to retired Bakersfield Police Chief Eric Matlock. He was buried Thursday at Hillcrest Memorial Park in east Bakersfield.  The retired chief passed away last week after a 3-year battle with cancer.  

    The service featured many speakers including former chief Bill Rector who spoke on his fun times with Chief Matlock.  

    The St. Michael's Prayer to police was read by Chief Greg Williamson.  Matlock's best friend, and former police captain Dave Jackson spoke on Matlock's final days and the legacy he left.  The graveside service featured a 21-gun salute.  

    Matlock worked in every division of the department in his 34 year career. He was appointed chief in 1999 and retired in 2004 at the age of 55.  We'll have more on the chief's funeral tonight on 17 News at 5 and 6.  

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