Former Healdsburg police chief found dead in home in apparent suicide

Former Healdsburg, Calif., Police Chief, Kevin Burke, has passed away. Burke served as the Healdsburg Police Chief from 2011 to 2021. . (Healdsburg Police Department via Bay City News

The community of Healdsburg is mourning the loss of former Chief of Police Kevin Burke, who died on Tuesday in what the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office is calling an apparent suicide.  

Burke, 55, had recently withdrawn his candidacy for county sheriff, citing health reasons.  

"The loss of Kevin Burke, our former Police Chief, will be felt by countless members of our community," said Healdsburg Mayor Ozzy Jimenez on Facebook on Wednesday. "His light and kind heart will be missed by so many. Our Healdsburg Police Department has lost a great leader and friend."  

Burke served as chief from 2011 to 2021. Previously, he had been chief of police in Lakeport. Burke had a law degree from U.C. Berkeley and worked as a prosecutor before going into policing, according to the City of Healdsburg. He will be remembered for his response to the Kincade fire, the pandemic, and being part of the national dialog about police reform, the city said.  

Deputies from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department carried out a welfare check on Burke on Tuesday at his home in the 800 block of Josephine Lane, according to department spokesperson Sergeant Juan Valencia.  

Valencia said that deputies found him with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. A note was found nearby, the department said. The official cause of death will be determined by the county pathologist.  

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"He was a mentor and a friend," said current Healdsburg Police Chief Matt Jenkins. "He led us through many difficult times with courage and dignity."