The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office West Valley Patrol Division is losing a special officer after only a few short months on the job.
Rick Sung, who was assistant division commander, was promoted to the position of division commander of the Sheriff's Office Headquarters Patrol Division, which encompasses areas including the foothills from Milpitas to Morgan Hill and facilities such as Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. He will oversee county substations out of the Sheriff’s headquarters in downtown San Jose.
who has headed the division since March, 2012, says he was glad to have the opportunity to work with the impressive Sung even if it was for a short while.
"Captain Sung has a wealth of experience within the sheriff's office ... He was always quick to respond to the needs of the community. Although Captain Sung's time was short, he had a great impact. He will be missed," Binder said, adding that the law enforcement agency plans to promote from within and hopes to name Sung’s replacement by early March.
Sung said he enjoyed his brief stint in the West Valley area. “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a great captain who provided such an impressive level of care and service to our residents. I love the City of Saratoga. I went to school there and I have always liked the area.”
A Formidable Career
Sung, 40, originally worked in sales and marketing at a high tech company after high school, and then opened his first of three restaurants, a Korean restaurant called Tofu House on El Camino Real in Santa Clara. He later started two Japanese restaurants, all of which he eventually sold. “I liked being my own boss,” said Sung.
But, Sung always had a drive to pursue police work and attended West Valley College to earn an associate of science degree in administration of justice, then went on to get a bachelor's degree in criminology from San Jose State University. Topping that was a master's degree in human resource management from Golden Gate University.
Sung has worn many hats in his time at the sheriff’s office. He started as a patrol officer and then was promoted to detective and then to a sergeant position in the Court Security Division.
Then he served as the sheriff’s public information officer for two years before being promoted to the assistant division commander for the Court Security Division. In that capacity he oversaw 11 court facilities throughout the county, where he said it wasn’t unusual to stop people smuggling in drugs, weapons or having to help break up domestic disputes. “There were a lot of interesting cases and tensions can be high so sometimes we’d need to wrestle someone to the ground if things were getting violent,” he said.
When Sung was promoted to assistant division commander of the West Valley Patrol Division in September of last year he enjoyed the change of pace working in Saratoga, Cupertino and Los Altos Hills.
“The West Valley area is one of the safest areas in the whole state of California,” said Sung. “There tend to be more property related crimes here such as burglaries and car break-ins and identity theft cases rather than crimes against persons such as assaults or homicides that you might find in other areas.”
The affable Sung said he loves police work because he enjoys helping people and getting the bad guys off the streets. “When visitors show up to pick up their stolen items with a big smile on their face that makes it all worth it,” said Sung.
Of course, police work is not always easy. Sung shared a story about a time he pulled over a man in a car and noticed that the suspect kept digging around in his back seat for something. Sung decided to wait in his car and directed the suspect to exit the vehicle and walk back to his police car while Sung called for back up. He’s glad he didn’t approach the suspect’s car because when his car was searched the officers found a loaded gun under the back seat. “You’ve got to trust your intuition,” he said. “I would have probably been shot that night.”
Another time Sung had the toughest fight of his career with a man who was on the mind-altering drug PCP. “This guy was only 5-foot-2 and 120 pounds and I’m 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, but the guy overpowered me and another officer. When people are on certain drugs they can have superhuman strength.”
Sung shared his theory for succeeding in police work. “Treating people with respect,” he said, “is the most important thing I’ve learned because usually when we come into contact with people, unlike a fireman or an EMT, the chance of a positive experience is very slim. So, it’s even more important to be diplomatic with people.”