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Retired Sgt. Cesar Sandoval's unexpected death

Retired police sergeant’s unexpected death bring sadness, shock Sandoval had served in Chico PD since 1999, led Target Team

April 16, 2023 at 4:22 a.m.

CHICO — Shock and sorrow were the combined reactions from members of Chico Police Department and local leaders following Friday’s unexpected death of former Sgt. Cesar Sandoval, who recently retired from the force. He was 50.

Sandoval, who joined the department in 1999 after serving in the Willows Police Department (in his hometown) beginning in November 1993, spent a total of 29 years in law enforcement, according to Chico Police Chief Bill Aldridge.

“The Chico Police Department mourns the sudden loss of retired Sgt. Cesar Sandoval,” Aldridge said in a written statement. “We will make sure to assist his family and friends with anything we can. Cesar gave 29 years of his life to providing service and commitment to the communities he served. His legacy within law enforcement left a lasting impression on many.”

Sandoval most notably was the leader of the department’s Target Team, a specialized unit that focuses on chronic criminal behavior. It has also had the task of addressing Chico’s homeless population and individuals’ frequent occupation of city property, such as Bidwell Park.

Sandoval began as a patrol officer, then served as a school resource officer, detective, sergeant, and finally as Target leader. He returned to patrol duty in 2021, according to then-Chief Matt Madden.

Butte County Supervisor Peter Durfee, also a Chico Police Department sergeant, had the highest praise for his former colleague.

“Nobody cared more about this community then Cesar Sandoval,” Durfee said. “As a police officer, he always went the extra mile to build relationships with the citizens of this great town.”

Chico Vice Mayor Kasey Reynolds had this to say: “Cesar was quiet and humble, but a true professional with an absolute heart of gold.

“The Chico Police Department was blessed to have recruited him from Willows years ago, and his consistent quality in policing reinforced the appropriateness of that choice over and over again,” she continued. “His passing hurts beyond words, and he will forever be remembered — especially, I’m sure, by those who were privileged enough to serve with him.”

Sandoval was in charge of the Target Team when the COVID-19 pandemic began in April 2020. He consistently expressed his desire to treat homeless people compassionately, and with “the focus to get them off the streets into a better place.”

“I would say our homeless community engages us as much as we engage with them,” he said at the time.

Sandoval’s survivors include his wife, Jessica; daughter, Shayla; and son Conner, as well as one grandson.

The Chico Police Officers Association established a GoFundMe account to provide financial support to Sandoval’s family. To contribute, visit (enter “Retired Sergeant Cesar Sandoval” in the search window). As of Saturday afternoon, the campaign had raised $6,350.

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