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California Briefing / Sacramento

Fire agency chief sorry after arrest

August 26, 2009|Eric Bailey

The director of California's wild-land fire protection service apologized Tuesday after his arrest over the weekend on suspicion of drunk driving.

Del Walters, 55, of Redding was taken into custody late Friday afternoon after a Highway Patrol officer stopped a Nissan 350Z on a rural road in Northern California's Plumas County.

Walters, a 35-year veteran of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, was released from Plumas County Correctional Center the next morning.

On Tuesday, the department issued a written apology from the chief. He declared himself "deeply sorry" for the "sadness this brings to my family and any attention that could detract from the selfless and dedicated work of the men and women of Cal Fire."

"To all Californians, I fully acknowledge that this incident contradicts my entire professional career dedicated to public safety. For that, I offer my apology and my word that I will tirelessly work to regain your trust," Walters said.

Facing potential legal charges, Walters won a vote of confidence from his personnel Tuesday. Bob Wolf, president of the CDF Firefighters, said that "outstanding individuals can sometimes make terrible mistakes," and the union supports Walters.

-- Eric Bailey

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