Deputy Klinkhart retires after distinguished 25-year career

Sep 8, 2022 | Front Page

By Douglas W. Motley
Senior Writer

Longtime Crestline resident Tracy Klinkhart retired on Aug. 21 following a distinguished 25-year career with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, first as a patrol deputy for 15 years out of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station and another 10 years at the Office of Security and Safety as a security officer for the board of supervisors.

Klinkhart is one of the most distinguished deputies in all of California for the number of valor ribbons awarded for saving lives. There were two medals of valor and two more for life saving. He received his first award in 2001 for entering a burning building to rescue several children reported to be inside.

Once inside the burning structure, no children or adults were found. However, he did evacuate an exotic bird from the building and consequently suffered burns to his shoes and feet.

Klinkhart’s first lifesaving episode occurred on Christmas Day in 2003, when an intense rainstorm triggered a disastrous mudslide in Waterman Canyon that roared through the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church camp, resulting in the deaths of seven children and adults who were celebrating Christmas. The flood swept them, along with mud, boulders and logs, down Waterman Creek. However, Klinkhart arrived just in time to rescue several other persons before they might have been swept away as well. For this feat of bravery, he was awarded the prestigious Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Award.

Klinkhart shared some of the details of his colorful career with the sheriff’s department. Asked why he chose a career in law enforcement, he responded, “I always wanted to be a cop and, growing up on the mountain, I used to watch cop shows like Dragnet, Adam 12 and Starsky and Hutch, so 27 years ago I applied for a job at the sheriff’s department, but you had to be 21 to get hired, so I waited two years and then I was accepted for training at the academy (the sheriff’s academy in Devore) in July of 1997.”

Following graduation from the sheriff’s academy, like most new deputies, he was assigned jail duty and worked at all three of the county detention centers: West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Central Detention Center in San Bernardino and Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center.

“Klink,” as he was affectionately called by his associates in law enforcement, said his favorite assignment was patrol duty, where he often worked a late-night shift patrolling the streets, where he conducted pedestrian checks to ensure there was no criminal activity taking place and stopping vehicles with expired license tags to check for warrants.

In an Aug. 25 proclamation from the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors, Board Chair Curt Hagman had this to say about Deputy Klinkhart: “When a family member concludes a long career serving our residents, we express our gratitude and wish them a long, happy, healthy and prosperous retirement.

Today, I would invite all of you to join me in thanking and congratulating someone very special and dear to all of us who is retiring after 25 years of brave, thoughtful and friendly service – San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Deputy Tracy Klinkhart.

“We all know Tracy through the numerous safety videos and training sessions in which he has not only starred but in most cases conceived and developed, with the assistance of the county’s multimedia team. I am sure many have been spared from becoming a crime victim because they followed Tracy’s advice.

“Those of you who work in the county government center have known Tracy for many years as the cheerful, assuring, always-on-alert provider of security in and around the building as well as at offsite county events. All of us have felt safe at the government center and around the county knowing that Tracy is watching out for us, deflecting threats and springing into action at a moment’s notice when necessary,” Hagman concluded.

County Sheriff Shannon Dicus has the following to say about Deputy Klinkhart: “Tracy has been a dedicated member of the sheriff’s department for the last 25 years. He could be counted on to deliver professional customer service on every single call or special assignment he had. He was a mentor and friend to many and, while he will be greatly missed, I thank him for all he has done. I wish him nothing bur the best as he starts his retirement and I hope he enjoys it as much as we enjoyed working with him. Congrats and good luck!”

Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station Lt. Craig Harris told The Alpine Mountaineer that he and Tracy patrolled the streets of Crestline for many years. “He came here (Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station) in December of 1999. Tracy was always fair and cordial, whether it was with someone involved in criminal activity or an ordinary citizen. If he needed to take someone to jail, they really needed it,” the lieutenant said.

According to Lt. Harris, Tracy would often get out of his patrol unit and walk along Lake Drive and high crime areas like Straight Way and Pioneer Camp late at night. “He was the only deputy I know who would walk up on someone and ask, ‘Hey, what are you doing?’”

Prior to being assigned to the Office of Safety and Security, where in addition to safeguarding members of the board of supervisors, he made a series of safety messages about 10 years ago that were shown on several LA area TV stations. Tracy always kept himself in good shape physically; for many years he did so by participating in the Baker to Las Vegas relay race.

“I love the people – that’s why I stayed so long,” Klinkhart said. “If you treat people good, they will treat you good.” When asked what his future looks like, he said, “I may do some traveling. I’m just going to take it one step at a time.”



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