Hohmann, 52, is as well-known throughout the Scotts Valley community for his work with the Special Olympics, his love of motorcycles, and his service to local youth as he is for his career as one of SVPD's longest-serving officers.
Hohmann said he was hired part-time in 1981 to wash patrol cars and clean the department headquarters while attending Cabrillo College.
He'd had his sights set on transferring to CSU Hayward to study criminal justice, when Steve Walpole — who then served as chief of police from 1986 to 2001 — urged him to stick around.
“He suggested that I stay locally and come on as a reserve officer,” Hohmann said.
Following Walpole's advice, Hohmann said that, with sponsorship from SVPD for his uniforms and equipment, he put himself through police academy training at Gavilan College in 1982 — all while serving as a reserve officer.
Finally, on Dec. 1, 1983, Hohmann was made a full-time officer. One of his first assignments was a grim one, he said. It was a manhunt for the gunman who killed Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Gray.
Over the next 23 years, Hohmann served as a Patrol Officer, Field Training Officer, Traffic Officer, School Resource Officer, and Patrol Sergeant before being promoted to Lieutenant in April 2007.
“In 30 years, at every intersection and every address there's a story to tell,” he said. “A lot of good times.”
As a field training officer in the early 1990s, one of the recruits under Hohmann's tutelage was a rookie named John Weiss.
“I’ve been with the police department almost 25 years, and he was one of my training officers,” said Weiss, now Scotts Valley's Chief of Police. “We have worked our entire careers together.”
Hohmann, who plans to stay on as a reserve officer in retirement, said he plans to use the extra time to focus on his family, and his hobbies of woodworking and motorcycles.
He said that serving as a police officer allowed him to combine his love of motorsports with his everyday career — particularly motorcycles. In recent years, Hohmann was a regular sight at community events on the department’s electric Zero motorcycle or his BMW.
“Motorcycles are my passion,” he said. “I'm lucky enough to get paid to ride.”
Hohmann will remain an active supporter of the Law Enforcement Torch Run, to increase awareness and raise funds for the Special Olympics.
Next year he will represent all law enforcement agencies in Northern California as a final leg torch runner for the U.S. Special Olympics Games in New Jersey. The games will serve as a qualifier for the U.S. Team at the worldwide games in 2015.
“It's an honor and a privilege to be part of the Torch Run,” said Hohmann, who's been involved for more than 15 years in the Law Enforcement Torch Run. “It's going to be one of the highlights of my career.”
He also plans to continue teaching at Scotts Valley High School, where he leads an Administration of Criminal Justice course through the Santa Cruz County Regional Occupational Program.
“(Hohmann) has been a wonderful resource for us in so many ways,” said SVHS Principal Valerie Bariteau. “(His class) is filled up every year, and I believe he has a lot to do with that.”
She said that Hohmann's presence on campus has helped represent law enforcement with a friendly face.
“He shows students that he's a police officer and he's a real person too,” she said. “It's neat for students to see police officers in a different way — not just when they're in trouble.”
Weiss said Hohmann working as a teacher is a natural fit with his personality.
“He's such an outgoing vibrant personality,” he said. “He's great with our youth — students just love him.”
Weiss added that Hohmann will remain an asset to the force as a reservist.
“I'm really excited about that because we're going to keep John's institutional knowledge,” he said.
Hohmann said that the decision to be a reserve officer had been an easy one, and he said he looks forward to helping patrol and train new officers.
“I decided I enjoyed it too much,” he said with a laugh.
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