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Twin police chiefs double the service
Twin police chiefs double the service
Being a twin can be kind of cool. You might look alike, talk alike, even laugh alike. But two grown men dressing alike and strapping on sidearms?
That's a little weird – unless they both happen to be police chiefs.
Meet Kevin and Kim Raney, believed to be only the second set of twins in the nation's history to simultaneously serve as police chiefs.
That's right. Kevin is Garden Grove's top cop. Kim is Covina's chief.
Consider the odds: There had to be openings in their respective cities where they've both served their entire careers, relationships with various officials had to align, their respective qualifications had to hit the mark.
Perhaps it's the magic of being a twin?
• • •
If you believe that every set of twins shares a destiny, allow me to burst your bubble.
I have twins, fraternal like Kevin and Kim. Secret language? My twins barely talk to one another. Share? Nothing since the womb.
Still, there's something very special in the air as I talk to the two police chiefs. There is brotherly love, support, kindness. And, yes, a sprinkling of twin magic.
Of course, the brothers are dressed similarly, both in blue, both with four stars on their lapels. But unlike some fraternal twins, the Raney brothers bear a striking similarity.
How similar? They admit that Mom entered them in a twin contest when they were little. They won.
Not only do they look similar, they have similar mannerisms and builds, although Kim's a weight lifter and his arms are thicker. They both keep their hair short, are relaxed, take their jobs seriously and enjoy poking fun at one another.
I ask their ages, uh, age. Kevin, 12 minutes older, chimes in, "Fifty-five, same as my younger brother."
As we chat in Garden Grove police headquarters, I surreptitiously glance at the city patches on their uniforms to keep track of who's who.
Of course, my technique is hardly surreptitious. As members of the thin blue line, these men are trained observers.
• • •
With a sister four years older, the brothers grew up in Lakewood, just over the Orange County line. As they traveled through school, there was little to indicate they would dedicate their lives to serving the public.
Growing up, Dad worked in a lumberyard. Mom was a homemaker – until she started working at J.C. Penney, as Kim jokingly puts it, "to keep her sanity."
Like a lot of guys in high school, Kevin and Kim focused on sports. Kevin played second base; Kim was the school's shortstop. Kevin played safety for the football team, Kim cornerback.
But things started to change when the teens took a class on students and the law from a deputy with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Without trying to sell anything, the deputy was someone who students – despite the tumultuous 1970s – looked up to. The deputy was a window into an exciting career. But more importantly, he showed the human side to being a cop, the side dedicated to helping others.
• • •
Through Long Beach City College, Kevin learned about Garden Grove's cadet program, something like a paid internship.
"You try out the department," Kevin says, "and they try you out."
You could say the tryout was successful. In January 2011, Kevin was named chief of police for a city with 171,000 citizens and a department with 170 sworn officers.
Kim signed up to be a cadet as well. But in those days, Garden Grove had a strict nepotism policy.
Fortunately, that policy is gone today. As we chat, one of Kevin's sons, John, drops by. John is a Garden Grove officer. Kevin's other son, Bill, is a sergeant in Irvine.
What's it like being the chief's son?
John blushes at the question, an especially touchy issue in a paramilitary organization in which men and women trust fellow officers with their lives.
The 25-year-old's response echoes Kevin's answer about being a twin. "I don't know anything different."
But three things are certain: One is that father and son never discuss work. Another is that John will get some friendly ribbing when this column appears. And the third is that John will reciprocate with some pizzas for his colleagues in blue.
So what about Kim, father of three?
• • •
After police academy, Kim launched his career in Covina. Covina's smaller than Garden Grove. But he beat his brother by a decade in becoming chief.
Yes, the guys enjoy brotherly competition.
Kevin reports he recently had his best golf game ever – and Kim still beat him.
Today, Kim's vice president of the California Police Chief's Association, former president of the Los Angeles County Police Chiefs Association and a major voice for police chiefs against legalizing marijuana.
He also has a bachelor's of science degree from Azusa Pacific University and is a graduate of the FBI's Southwest Command College.
Do the brothers talk shop?
A lot. They discuss the operational as well as the sometimes sticky political side of being police chiefs.
"Besides having a police chief to call," Kevin says, "I have my brother."
They share something else as well, something Kim calls "unspoken intuition."
And it goes far beyond discovering they've worn identical shirts to the same family function – although there is that.
• • •
On Christmas Eve 2008, Kim faced the second worst mass homicide in the history of California.
A man dressed as Santa Claus walked into a Covina home, shot a number of relatives and torched the house before fleeing. Nine people died.
At the same time, Kevin's son, John, was mending from a near-fatal dirt biking accident in a Riverside hospital.
After 30 hours without sleep, Kim managed to visit the hospital where Kevin and his wife were camped in an RV, praying.
Dozens of off-duty Garden Grove personnel gathered outside the hospital wishing John to heal.
Brothers in blue.
David Whiting's column appears four days a week; firstname.lastname@example.org.