Daniel B. Suttles brings 20 years of law enforcement experience to the city

by Christianna Marks

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — For the last month, Atascadero’s newest Police Chief Daniel B. Suttles has been serving the community. With 20 years of law enforcement under his belt and eight years of service in the Marine Corps, Suttles has brought a plethora of knowledge to the city since he officially took over on Monday, Jan. 8, of this year.

Suttles was born in Ohio but grew up in Oregon, near Portland, until the end of high school, when life led him to California and steered him towards a life in law enforcement. 

“When I was in high school, I was that kid who wanted to find a career job. I was like, whatever it is I do after high school is going to be my career, but I didn’t know what it was,” Suttles said. “I did know I really liked police work, and that was one of the things I was like, you know, hopefully I can be a cop.”


Right before graduation, at the ripe age of 17, Suttles headed down to the Beaverton Police Department and asked for an application. He was told that he was too young to apply, but the department suggested that he join the military before coming back to apply four years later.

“So I did that. I went, and I joined the Marine Corps. I joined for four years, but then after four years, I ended up staying for another four. So, I did eight years in the Marine Corps,” he said. “That was really important for me, especially in hindsight, looking back, because of all the branches of the military and maybe I am a little biased because I was in the Marine Corps, but in the Marine Corps, they push leadership and leadership traits and leadership principles, and they really want you to understand these things and be able to step in and be a leader.”

During his military career, which started at Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Suttles volunteered for everything he could, including an indoctrination for an STA (Surveillance and Target Acquisition) platoon, which ended up being a sniper platoon. He then went into reconnaissance, which is where he spent the rest of his military career before applying to be a cop.

“When I decided it was time for me to apply to be a police officer, I applied for whoever was hiring,” Suttles said. “Luckily for me, Glendale was the one that offered me the job. It was a perfect fit for me, and it was a wonderful place.”

While working for the Glendale Police Department, Suttles worked a bunch of different assignments, which he slipped into easily given his military background. He worked on its part-time SWAT team and as a patrol officer. He was also a detective and a sergeant for 10 years on patrol. He also did Internal Affairs investigations, was a public information officer, and then became the adjutant to the Glendale police chief, before his promotion to lieutenant.

Suttles added that it was when he was adjutant to the chief that he grew an appreciation for the job. That was the moment he decided to advance past sergeant. That decision put him on track for becoming Atascadero’s police chief after two years as chief of police in Bear Valley.

“When it comes to learning, it was a fast track for learning a lot of things. My experience of working with the chief as the adjutant in Glendale and then being the chief in Bear Valley — it was like drinking water from a fire hose,” Suttles joked.

Suttles knew he wanted to move his family to the Central Coast, so he kept his eyes out for police chief positions before learning that Atascadero had an opening. He kept his eyes on the opening for about a year while the city went through management changes and hopped on applying as soon as the position officially opened up. He said when he looked into the actual department itself, how the APD runs sold him on applying for the position.

“Everything I looked into and researched about this police department got me more excited about it,” Suttles said. “It seemed to be a fit for the type of person that I am, the type of chief that I’ve become. What really drew me to this department was that not only is it in a wonderful place but it’s just a really good department. Quite honestly, where I spent my first 18 years in Glendale was a really wonderful department, and the similarities between the two are pretty incredible actually.”

Suttles also commented on how welcoming the community has been to him and his whole family. He says that most people instantly feel like new friends and that his main goal as police chief is to enhance the great work that the department is already doing.

“You don’t change things just to change them, you change them for a meaningful impact,” Suttles added. “Therefore if we have something that’s working what I want to work toward is enhancing that or making it grow.”

Welcome to the community.