Crime - Sacto 911

Garden Valley fire chief accused of DUI after dispute with neighbor

William Dekker
William Dekker Booking photo, El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office

An El Dorado County fire district chief who has faced criticism for previous criminal convictions in other states has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.

William Dekker, 60, chief of the Garden Valley Fire Protection District, was arrested Friday after El Dorado County sheriff’s deputies responded at about 1:50 p.m. to a report of a neighborhood dispute in the community of Greenwood, about 17 miles north of Placerville. The neighbor reported that Dekker had threatened to shoot him during a dispute over a loose dog, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release.

Deputies went to contact Dekker about the incident and flagged him down as he was driving by. As they talked, deputies suspected that Dekker might have been drinking and conducted several field sobriety tests, sheriff’s officials said. They subsequently arrested Dekker on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and booked him into the El Dorado County Jail. He was later released on $50,000 bond.

Dekker was not at work Monday and did not respond to phone calls seeking comment on his arrest.

Ed Hawkins, chairman of the fire district’s board of directors, said he did not believe Dekker was on duty at the time of the incident. Hawkins said he had talked with Dekker but declined to discuss their conversation. He said the board would take up the matter in an executive session during its regular meeting Tuesday morning.

Dekker was hired by the Garden Valley fire board in November 2007, two months after he resigned as chief of a fire district in Arizona, where he had been cited for disorderly conduct.

In a 2009 story, The Sacramento Bee reported that Dekker was convicted in Nevada in 1996-97 for drunken driving, passing bad checks and traffic offenses. As a fire chief in Lyon County, Nev., Dekker was arrested on suspicion of DUI at the scene of a fire at a station house. He resigned a month later.

A decade later, while serving as fire chief for the Pine-Strawberry Fire District in Arizona, Dekker was cited for disorderly conduct in May 2007 after confronting a couple who had started an illegal campfire. A sheriff’s deputy at the scene reported he smelled alcohol on Dekker’s breath, according to Gila County Sheriff’s Office records, and that the fire chief was stumbling around, shouting obscenities and antagonizing the already agitated male camper.

Dekker, in a 2009 interview, downplayed the Nevada traffic cases and the Arizona incident, but expressed regret over the drunken driving arrest in Nevada, saying he had been out to dinner and consumed alcohol and should not have responded to the fire call.

It marks the second drunken driving arrest of a public official in El Dorado County in two months. Jeremy Meyers was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Nov. 5 and subsequently resigned as El Dorado County schools superintendent.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy