Hank Sims / Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 @ 9:01 a.m. / Local Government
WE SALUTE GREG BICKEL: Wheels Down for Aerial Deputy With Multifaceted Law Enforcement Career
From the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:
It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new adventure for Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Greg Bickel. Bickel retires today, Dec. 29, after 24 years of service. While he admits he never expected a career in law enforcement, he is thankful for the adventure.
“Aviation was my number one love,” Bickel said. “When I moved to Humboldt, I got a job at the airport.”
It was around the time of the first Gulf War that the Sheriff’s Office began stationing deputies at the Arcata Airport. Bickel, an airport employee at that time, took the opportunity to become friends with the deputies. That’s when adventure called.
“I became great friends with Dave Morey. He’s the one who told me about the reserve deputy program,” Bickel said.
The Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy Program consists of sworn volunteers who assist regular deputy sheriffs in their duties. Reserve deputies are required to undergo training courses, as well as additional on-duty training. Reserve deputies serve a minimum of 16 hours per month working alongside deputy sheriffs in the field.
Bickel was sworn in as a Level II Reserve Deputy in December of 1992. While not quite ready to dive in to full-time patrol, Bickel soon began to see a future at the Sheriff’s Office.
“I was looking for more of a career,” Bickel said. “I learned about the jail and that they were hiring. So I applied.”
Bickel was hired as a Correctional Officer on Jan. 20, 1994, but maintained his reserve deputy status by volunteering on his days off. After seven years working in the correctional facility, Bickel decided it was time to fully commit to patrol.
“I wanted to do more,” Bickel said. “I wanted to expand my career and so, I put myself through the Academy.”
For six months, Bickel worked in the correctional facility on weekends while attending the academy during the week. He was hired on as a Deputy Sheriff in December of 2001 and was one of the first deputies assigned to the McKinleyville substation.
“The best thing was working in the community that I lived in,” Bickel said. “That was exactly why I got into law enforcement to begin with; I wanted to give back to the community.”
The adventure continued for Bickel who had the opportunity to work on the Drug Enforcement Unit, then as a School Resource Officer for the Northern Humboldt Unified School District. Bickel was one of the first bicycle patrol deputies in McKinleyville and one of the founding pilots of the Sheriff’s Office Air Auxiliary, an organization of local aircraft owners and pilots utilized for aerial aid during search and rescue operations from 2006-2014.
Always wanting a taste for something new, three years ago Bickel again took on a new position as a court services deputy providing courtroom security and managing inmates’ movement between the Correctional Facility and the courts.
After more than two decades of service with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office, Bickel has his eyes set on a new adventure: retirement.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Bickel says of his immediate plans. “I’ll still remain as an extra help deputy working here in the courts or at the airport.”
While he will be sticking around the area for now, Bickel is drafting up big plans to travel the world on his motorcycle.
Sheriff William Honsal and the entire staff of the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office are thankful for Deputy Bickel’s many years of service to the community and wish him success in his retirement.