Chief Mark Helms (Ret.)


Chief Mark Helms is a Northern California law enforcement leader with more than 30 years of public safety and local government experience. Mark retired in June 2015 after serving nearly four years as police chief in the City of Lodi, a community of 64,000 located just south of Sacramento County.

Mark’s policing career began in 1984 when he joined the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office to work as a custodial officer in the men’s jail. In 1985, he became a police officer in the City of Stockton, a diverse Central Valley community of 300,000 residents. During his 26 year tenure with the Stockton Police Department, Mark worked as a patrol officer, field training officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, and deputy chief of police. He held several assignments and managed each bureau in the 650-member agency including operations, investigations, and administration.

In 2011, as Stockton was poised to enter municipal bankruptcy, Mark was named police chief in the neighboring city of Lodi. As chief, he implemented significant organizational change in a department of more than 100 sworn and civilian employees. He also developed an evidence-based strategy that significantly reduced gang violence, collaborated with community leaders to address the city’s growing homelessness problem, and served on the Executive Committee of San Joaquin County’s Community Corrections Partnership, a policy body that administers California’s public safety realignment laws.

Mark served on the board of directors of the California Police Chiefs Association and is a past president and vice president of the Central Sierra Police Chiefs’ Association. He is also a member of several professional organizations including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, FBI National Academy Associates, and Police Executive Research Forum.

Mark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management from St. Mary’s College of California and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Stanislaus. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA, and California’s Law Enforcement Command College. He also holds an Executive Certificate from the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, California’s highest law enforcement certification.

Mark is currently an adjunct administration of justice professor at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, where he resides with his wife and family.