Chico, Calif. -- What does Chico have in common with a major European city and travel destination?
That is a question Action News Now Morning Anchor Julia Yarbough asked and found out, during a ‘ride-along’ with a member of the Chico Police Department. One local officer is the conduit between the two regions and he is connected through a unique professional and personal level.
When Chico Police Officer Cedric Schwyzer has the opportunity to speak his native language, which is Swiss-German, it is a rare treat. When the conversation takes place with police narcotics investigator Patrick Joray, the benefit is even more so.
The only problem with working in a dual language, is switching back and forth. Officer Schwyzer says he tried telling his Sergeant something and accidentally talked to him in German.
The last time Officer Schwyzer and Detective Joray saw each other was four years ago. That is a long time for colleagues and even more so for family members. You see the two law enforcement professionals are cousins!
Joray described the day as “awesome.” He said the time together was great and because he loves and respects his cousin, it was especially nice to visit him in Chico.
Joray is a member of the Luzern, Switzerland Police Department. Spending one day with his cousin is an opportunity to experience policing from a different perspective.
Both men say they have the same jobs, therefore there is a great deal to talk about. The two try and find similarities and differences between their approaches to law enforcement, how the departments work, the resources available and how cultural differences affect how they interact with the public.
For example, the first call Officer Schwyzer arrived to was for a report of a young woman experiencing mental health issues. The officer was able to talk her into a less combative mode and then members of the Chico Police Department Mobile Crisis Unit took over. This type of response to a mental health situation is not something Detective Joray says his team has in Switzerland.
He says when officers encounter similar situations, they make sure to record the person’s name and personal information and offer to get them to a doctor. They file a report, so if there is a call to the same address involving the same person in the future, other officers are aware. But there is nothing such as a mobile crisis unit to assist on-scene.
The next call the two men arrive on is locating two men loitering behind a Chico business. As Officer Schwyzer speaks to what appear to be young transients; collecting information about them including where they are from, where they are planning to go and what resources are available to help them get off the streets.
For Detective Joray the encounter is almost foreign. He says Switzerland offers a wide and deep social safety net for citizens and he believes for that reason, his region does not deal with issues of homelessness and people living on the streets. He describes what he witnesses on the call as sad and unfortunate.
Officer Schwyzer and Detective Joray grew up together in small, neighboring villages in Switzerland. Both say they have fond memories of their childhood. Neither anticipated entering law enforcement and say it was simply chance they are now in the same profession.
Now, the two men exchange ideas and information; compare and contrast their approaches to interacting with the public and sharing concepts about how to do their jobs better.
As for Officer Schwyzer, the journey which brought him to the Chico Police Department is a unique one. He says he first came to Chico as a high-school exchange student. He fell in love with the area, returned for college and then eventually became a U.S. citizen. He says he went into the law enforcement professions because he wanted to help people.
And if his name sounds familiar, it could be because Action News Now introduced you to Officer Schwyzer last year as a result of him helping someone. He was instrumental in assisting a local youth who was involved in gangs and had run away from home. The officer encouraged the young man to focus on setting his life straight and finishing school. That teen finished a youth work program, earned his high school diploma and then landed a job working with the City of Chico Parks Department. At the time, Officer Schwyzer said he simply saw something in the youth and suspected he was a ‘good kid’ who had simply lost his way.