Jeff Dirkse, the chief of police in Patterson and a lieutenant in the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, is proud to announce his candidacy for sheriff in the June 2018 election.
Dirkse is a West Point graduate, a former Army Ranger and National Guard commander who served for nearly a year in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He joined the Sheriff’s Department in 2007 as a patrol deputy and quickly rose through the ranks. He became Patterson’s chief in May 2015 as part of the county’s contract with that city to provide police services.
“Almost all of my professional life has been devoted to public service,” said Dirkse. “I am excited to take this next step.”
He thinks his military training and law enforcement experience have prepared him to be sheriff.
“I have a broad background in leadership over the last 25 years,” Dirkse said. “I led groups of up to 120 soldiers in multinational settings. I’ve also run my own ag business and understand the needs and desires of private citizens and business owners. I have been a police chief more than two years in a vibrant and growing community.
“All of these have been very rewarding experiences that have developed me into the leader that I now am. In my campaign, I look forward to meeting people throughout Stanislaus County, and listening to and learning about their concerns.”
Dirkse is honored by the support of the current sheriff, Adam Christianson, who has announced he will not seek election to a fourth term in 2018.
“I think he’s done a great job over the last 12 years,” Dirkse said. “I’m proud to serve under him. We’re a stronger department now because of his leadership.”
“My decision to retire is also an opportune time for someone else to lead this fine organization to even greater heights,” Christianson said. “Jeff has served the sheriff’s office, our employees and the people of Stanislaus County with pride and admiration.”
Dirkse, 45, was raised on a dairy just outside of Denair and currently lives in the same house where he grew up. He still farms 40 acres of almonds. He attended Turlock High School, where he was on the football, wrestling and track teams. He also was active in the youth group at Evangelical Free Church (now known as Crossroads).
In 1990, he received a nomination to West Point from former Congressman Gary Condit. He graduated from the academy in 1994 as a 2nd lieutenant and was accepted in Ranger school. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Lewis, Wa., commanding 40-man rifle platoons as well as a 15-man anti-armor platoon as part of the 101st Airborne Division and 2nd Ranger Battalion.
By the time he left active duty in 1999, he had been promoted to captain.
Dirkse ran his family’s 550-acre farm – which now includes almonds and other crops – for four years after leaving the service. Following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he felt a duty to use his military training to serve the country.
“I knew I had to go back in; I just wasn’t sure how or where I would serve,” he said.
Dirkse joined the California National Guard, where he was put in command of an infantry company, D/1-184 Infantry, headquartered in Oakdale. In 2005, they were deployed to Iraq and given responsibility for a sector in the Baghdad suburbs.
“We didn’t have a lot of battles in the traditional sense, but we dealt with a lot of insurgents and IEDs (bombs),” he said. “We had a zone for my company and we patrolled it every day.”
The work was dangerous. Five of Dirkse’s soldiers were killed in action and about 40 were wounded.
Dirkse earned a Bronze Star for his leadership that year. He also was awarded a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, an Army Commendation Medal and an Army Achievement Medal.
At the Sheriff’s Department, Dirkse has been a STING detective, a rural crimes detective, a patrol sergeant and an internal affairs sergeant before becoming police chief in Patterson. He also supervised the Explorers for several years and developed an intern program to bring high school graduates into the department at age 18.
“One of my main goals as chief is to develop my sergeants to replace me,” he said. “It takes active work by leaders to create, train and mentor the next generation.”
Dirkse took a leave from the Sheriff’s Department in 2010-12 when he was mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). He was stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, where he served as a watch commander for Special Operations Command, Europe.
Dirkse and his wife, Sandi, were married in 1994 in the back yard of the house they now live in. They have three children – Anna and Abi, both college students, and Jake, a student at Turlock High.
Dirkse is on the board of the Greater Yosemite Boy Scouts Council, a member of the Patterson Rotary and is an advisory member of the West Modesto Boys & Girls Club.