It was Monday afternoon and Pasadena Police Commander’s Art Chute and Jason Clawson are at their “table” at Sahara Restaurant.
“We always get the ocean view,” joked Clawson as they look out the window facing Colorado Boulevard.
It takes just a few minutes before guests from the restaurant come over to crack jokes and shake hands with Chute and Clawson as if they are all old friends.
The truth is, after more than 25 years of working in Pasadena, covering everything from foot patrol to special events, counterterrorism and narcotics, it’s safe to say these two experienced police officers may know more than a few people in town.
“Those two have been friends with us for as long as I can remember, “said Ron Okum, a former Tournament of Roses President who bumped into the two officers at Sahara Restaurant. “They like to say they aren’t doing much these days, but I think they may be working harder than ever.”
Both Clawson and Chute were recently promoted to be a part of the Department’s Command Staff. A new role that puts them in the center of everything, including being the eyes and ears for Police Chief John Perez, who handpicked the two officers for the job.
“Openings for Commanders are not all that common, but because of promotions and other movement at the rank, I had the opportunity to appoint both Jason and Art to Commander,” said Chief Perez. “Each of them bring a different skill set to the Command Staff which will help to guide the Pasadena Police Department into the future. Both Jason and Art’s institutional knowledge and leadership styles made them standout during the promotional process and I knew I wanted to have both of them on my Command Staff team—leading the Pasadena Police Department.”
Clawson and Chute have joined the team which includes: Chief Perez, Deputy Chief Cheryl Moody, Commander Kelly Evans and Ed Calatayud.
Both Chute and Clawson have climbed the ranks at the Department, taking the steps needed to advance through the years. They’ve also witnessed the changes within the Department the last 25 years.
Jason Clawson joined the Department when he was 22 years-old spending the years after high school in the Navy as a firefighter. While other kids his age were at the college keg party, Clawson was involved in the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup and then headed out to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm.
When he returned he decided to continue to serve the public and he joined the police academy. In the last two decades, he’s worked in the PD’s SWAT team, Vice Narcotics, Crimes against Persons and Neighborhood Crime Task force, where he worked with narcotics and gang suppression.
Art Chute, a local San Gabriel Valley resident, envisioned two careers for himself while going to Glendale Community College. Professional baseball player or a coin toss between Firefighter and Police Officer.
In 1994, he began his career as a police officer at Pasadena Police Department and spent the next two decades working in the Detective unit, Vice Narcotics and in Special Enforcement where he stayed as an officer, Corporal and a Sergeant.
Chute then found himself overseeing Pasadena PD’s one-of-a-kind Event Planning Section, which for the City of Roses means being in charge of the Rose Parade, managing the Counter Terrorism Unit, the Rose Bowl Game, international soccer matches, UCLA football games and any and all Rose Bowl Concerts.
For the two seasoned officers, their past experiences have given them the skills they need to be a part of the commanding staff, which as it turns out, has a lot more to do with being a sounding board for the community and the police staff.
“It’s a challenging role mainly because your level of responsibility has dramatically increased,” said Chute. “Just by virtue of what we do, everyone looks to you more for guidance, support and leadership now … and it’s rewarding. I feel fortunate to be where I am.”
“People come in and talk to you and I get emails from the community,” said Clawson. “You learn more about what people want and why they want it. That has been something that has been eye opening for me.”
These days, Chute and Clawson can often be seen dressed in uniform or in business suits making their way through the City as ambassadors for the Department.
Whether it’s a ‘Cookie with a Cop’ event at a local eatery, being present for a memorial run for a fallen officer or supporting the community at its annual Black History Breakfast, their roles may be different but at heart, they are both still police officers who came in to do what they consider ‘the best job in the world.’
“I’m just a cop who got lucky to be a commander,” said Chute.
“We are blessed to be in this position,” said Clawson. “Navigating the needs of the community, while supporting and empowering those who walk in our footsteps … they are experts, possess integrity and have the will to do what’s right, always, and for that I am humbled”.