Editor’s note: This is one in a series of stories highlighting recent promotions within the Garden Grove PD.
When he was a rookie officer with the Garden Grove PD, Ben Stauffer got into a 30-minute, high-speed pursuit of a stolen vehicle that ended up closer to the waves than the driver ever imagined.
The dispatcher on the other end of the radio was none other than his father, Norman.
Stauffer, who was promoted to captain the first of the year — his 30th with the GGPD — was warned by his father about an upcoming hairpin turn on the cramped Balboa Peninsula.
In anticipation, Stauffer slowed his patrol car.
“My father knew the county like the back of his hand,” he said.
The suspect Stauffer was chasing, however, did not. He careened through the turn at 60 mph and nearly lost control, ending up just feet from the sands of Newport Beach.
He quickly was apprehended.
“I was able to focus on the job at hand,” Stauffer said, “knowing I had the best dispatcher possible taking care of things on the other end of the radio.”
Stauffer, who in 2014 was a visible face at the GGPD as public information officer, credits his father for sparking his interest in law enforcement.
Norman Stauffer, who died in 2008, was a longtime dispatcher for the county’s emergency “red” channel.
The younger Stauffer was hired as a part-time Garden Grove police dispatcher in October 1985.
Prior to being promoted to captain this year, Stauffer was a lieutenant assigned to Professional Standards, where in addition to serving as PIO he oversaw training, personnel recruiting, internal affairs, police chaplains, cadets and reserves.
Stauffer’s career at the GGPD has included serving as a police explorer advisor, as a master officer in the Special Investigations Unit, and as an investigator assigned to the task force looking into the 1993 murder of Officer Howard Dallies Jr.
A pilot, Stauffer manned the County’s surveillance airplane for the Regional Narcotics Suppression Program in the mid-1990s — an assignment he called his favorite.
“I was assigned to the plane for three years and would have forgone all promotions and pay raises if I could have stayed in that assignment the rest of my career,” Stauffer said.
Stauffer also was the first supervisor of the GGPD’s Mounted Enforcement Unit; he was one of the officers that established it in May 2000.
He was promoted to sergeant in December 2001 and to lieutenant in July 2006, overseeing in the latter role the Mounted, Neighborhood Traffic, Gang Suppression, Special Investigations, Intel and Code Enforcement Units, as well as the SWAT team.
Around the station, he is known as meticulous and intelligent — the latter earning the 6-foot-6-inch cop the nickname “Big Brain.”
As captain, Stauffer, 48, is in charge of the Garden Grove PD’s Support Services Division, which includes investigations, records, communications and property and evidence.
“I love the fact that GGPD is still a department where you can take care of business and have the backing of your department,” Stauffer said. “If you do something wrong, it gets addressed, but does not necessarily submarine your career. As long as you are an honest, hard worker, you can make mistakes and recover from them.”