After 17 years as the dean of Golden West College’s Criminal Justice Training Center (CJTC) and another 30-plus years in active duty law enforcement, Ron Lowenberg is calling it a career.
But while Lowenberg won’t be on the grounds of the 39,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility – a dream he helped make a reality – his legacy will be realized for decades to come.
“Ron is the regional Criminal Justice Training Center,” said Steve Ames, CJTC’s program coordinator, speaking at the festivities honoring Lowenberg for his service. “Much of the phenomenal curriculum that we enjoy here, that serves our training partners so well, was developed under his watch.”
That curriculum includes the 26-week basic course that prepares recruits for traditional law enforcement careers, along with a 16-week specialized investigator course geared toward careers in state agencies such as the Department of Insurance and the Medical Board.
“The highlight of my career for the past 50-plus years has been to work with all of you,” Lowenberg said at the gathering. “I love all of you. I’m going to miss you all.”
The COVID-19 virus forced Lowenberg’s retirement ceremony to be scaled down to a few dozen in-person attendees and about 30 more tuning in virtually.
During his time at the CJTC, Lowenberg oversaw the construction of the new $25 million training center, which features “smart” classrooms, exercise facilities, and the Scenario Village, a configuration of structures that replicates those officers may come across on the streets.
“What we’re standing in is the house that Ron built, proverbially and literally,” Ames said.
Lowenberg steps down as the dean of the CJTC with more than 36 years of law enforcement experience, including more than 20 years as a police chief, 13 of them guiding the Huntington Beach Police Department.
He has been the recipient of commendations, awards, and recognition from citizens, service organizations, city officials, professional law enforcement organizations, the California Department of Justice, California State Legislature, the Executive Director of the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST), and the Governor of the State of California.
“To say that Ron has enjoyed a distinguished law enforcement career is truly an understatement,” Ames once wrote in a bio of Lowenberg.
Beyond the brick and mortar are the Six Pillars of Character, which are the centerpiece of the CJTC. The training at the CJTC includes instilling the pillars — trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship — into the heart of every recruit who passes through.
“The Six Pillars of Character that you see as a focal point … he was 100 percent responsible for making it happen and it really speaks to what we stand for,” Ames said.
The Six Pillars of Character were the heart of Lowenberg’s parting words.
“The best advice I can give the students and staff — and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to staff — if you live those pillars, you’ll be fine both in your professional life and your personal life,” Lowenberg said. “Not only do you have to understand the Six Pillars of Character, but you have to live the six pillars.”
In the wake of nationwide high-profile in-custody deaths and the accompanying civil unrest and media scorn, those six pillars must be embraced now more than ever, Lowenberg said.
“We recruit from the human race like everyone else does and we think we do the best job possible in training these young men and women, but when they are making decisions in a nanosecond about life and death, that’s a tough environment to be in,” Lowenberg said.