MOORPARK – Now Jeff Matson knows what Gene Bartow felt like. In 1975, Bartow replaced legendary UCLA basketball Coach John Wooden. Now, Matson is replacing a semi-legend in these parts, taking over for Dick Diaz as Moorpark’s police chief. “I’m following a tough act there,” Matson said. Last week, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department named Matson Moorpark’s top cop. Diaz retires next month after a 37-year law enforcement career, four of them running the Moorpark force. Kemp said Matson is an advocate of community involvement and building partnerships. His years in Thousand Oaks gave him an insight of what’s to come: answering to multiple bosses, including the Sheriff’s Department, city officials and local residents. Among his goals are enhancing community outreach programs, continuing to support the citizens volunteer force and forging already strong ties between law enforcement and the public. Sheriff’s Cmdr. Marty Rouse said Matson, 53, was the department’s only choice. Because Moorpark contracts with the department for police services, his selection required approval from the city. “He has a lot of energy, lots of expertise,” Rouse said. “He is someone who genuinely wants to leave their mark in a positive way … leave a legacy. Everywhere he goes, he’s done that.” During his 23 years with the department, Matson has served as administrative services captain for Thousand Oaks, managed the pretrial detention facility and the Internal Affairs Unit and most recently was the captain for East County patrol services, where he supervised 61 deputies and 10 sergeants. He is also credited with co-founding the Volunteers in Policing program in Thousand Oaks – an accomplishment that caught Moorpark Mayor Pat Hunter’s attention. “What impressed me most in talking with Capt. Matson was his understanding that a successful law enforcement program requires partnerships with a number of agencies and specifically, partnering with the public,” Hunter said. “He had experience with those kinds of relationships. He was and is and will be a good fit for the position in the city. He shares our vision.” The twist in being chief in such a safe city is maintaining that lofty position, Hunter said. “Moorpark is a growing community, and although we enjoy a very low crime rate, a growing community requires that you pay particular attention to crime trends,” said Hunter, a Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant. “I expect him to be a hands-on manager, to analyze the kinds of crime in the city and do what he can to suppress criminal activity.” Matson is up to the challenge and said it’s a dream come true coming back to a city where he once worked as a patrol officer, although it’s changed dramatically, he said. “Going to Moorpark is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said the father of two college students who lives in Simi Valley. Matson will make about $118,000 a year. His arrival comes two months after the completion of the new police headquarters in Moorpark, a state-of-the-art $11 million facility. Diaz said Matson understands what needs to be done. “He is capable,” Diaz said. “Seems to fit.” Still, he said jokingly, “Nobody likes to be replaced.” Angie Valencia-Martinez, (805) 583-7604 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card Matson, a 23-year department veteran, has come home again after patrolling the city years ago. Now, he’ll oversee about 40 sheriff’s deputies – half of whom patrol the east Ventura County city of nearly 36,000. His first day is March 26. “I just want to leave Moorpark in better shape than the way I found it,” he said. He’ll find it in pretty good shape. The city is Ventura County’s safest. If it has one homicide in a year, that’s news. Kathy Kemp, the first female deputy chief in Sheriff’s Department history, worked alongside Matson when she was Thousand Oaks’ acting chief of police from 1993-2000. Matson was second in charge during part of her tenure. “Jeff has a real natural ability to get people to follow him, and that’s a great indication of a leader,” she said.