Kenny Swithenbank: Promoted to Humboldt County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Talks About What He’s Done and What He Hopes to Do

Lt. Kenny Swithenbank of the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office

Photo provided by Laura Lasseter

A Southern Humboldt man has been promoted to lieutenant at the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. Kenny Swithenbank was born in Garberville as the waters receded from the 1964 flood. After attending school here, he became a deputy for the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office. He later promoted to sergeant and became a fixture in the Garberville area.

By 2015, he transferred from Southern Humboldt and began commuting to work in Eureka. This November, Swithenbank promoted to lieutenant and will be able to again be somewhat involved in the Southern Humboldt area.

“I will be able to go to meetings there more,” Swithenbank explained. “And hope to spend more time in Garberville.”

Swithenbank said that he won’t be in his patrol car out working in the community as much as he would like. “I have now transferred into more of an administrative position,” he said a little regretfully. “I’m in charge of our internal investigation, citizen complaints, etc. I’ll be doing more keeping track of our records.”

However, he explained, “I will still be out and about. I’m going to be in charge of stuff like SARB [School Attendance Review Board]…I will do my best to get down [to SoHum] as much as I can….Southern Humboldt will always be home.”

Swithenbank has been involved in many big cases including the attempted murder of Humboldt County Sheriff’s Deputy Bang Cao. Swithenbank and Cao attempted to serve papers on a William Nelson who lived in Shelter Cove when the man opened fire on the deputy hitting him in the chest. Cao’s armored vest kept him from dying. But Cao credited Swithenbank with keeping him alive.

He wrote in an op-ed published in the Lost Coast Outpost,

I consider myself extremely lucky that I was at the side of Sergeant Swithenbank, and his 25 years of experience, that day. He knew exactly what to do, and because of that, we both made it home to our families. My Point Blank ballistic vest was credited for saving my life, but I also credit Sergeant Swithenbank.

However, when asked which of the many cases he’s proudest of, Swithenbank spoke of helping get a child out of a bad situation and placed with a “good, local family.” He explained, “It’s not a big deal but it is one of the things I feel best about….The child was in a bad, bad way. I finally located the child…I did a lot of leg work.” The child, he said, is now “doing great.” The family, he explained, “still see me and they remember what happened and they are very grateful.”

Swithenbank said that he has plenty of stories about “crazy car chases” but, he said, “I always wanted to be a cop to see the right thing done and I feel like [getting the child to a good home] was it.”

He acknowledges that the job can be hard emotionally. “There’s the tragedies and family deaths, the children’s deaths, the broken families, being part of that sadness for other people’s families.” He explained that he has learned to compartmentalize but, he said, “Seems like the older I get, the softer I get and the more tolerant I get.’

Arresting the same person repeatedly “for decades” used to make him angry, he admitted. “But now, I don’t let it stress me out,” he said.

Swithenbank said he misses some of the parts of being a sergeant in Southern Humboldt. “I mostly miss the people I know,” he explained. “[I miss] going from store to store and visiting fellow citizens. [I miss] the connections I made down there. It’s amazing the contacts I made…The contacts have turned into friends.”

But, with his new position, he hopes to make changes that will help his fellow officers and the folks in Humboldt. “I’m hoping to make the deputies’ jobs much easier,” he explained. He’s hoping to improve communication, he said. He also said that Measure Z will help. “After the first of the year, we are going to hire some more [personnel]. Measure Z is helping and it is going to help some more.”

“We’re making schedule changes,” he said and he hopes this improves the number of hours deputies are in Southern Humboldt. “This upcoming year,” Swithenbank explained,”we should see a pretty good difference on the street–all due to Measure Z.”



  • Congratulations Kenny. You’ve earned your promotion. Best of luck. See you around, I hope.

  • Congratulations on your promotions to lieutenant good luck on your journey in a different aspect of law enforcement we will miss you .

  • Congratulations Kenny. It’s long, long overdue.
    Kenny was a warm welcome presence in SoHum. He could solve problems with a few well thought out words. And the people that thought they could be criminals anyway, soon found out that they could run, but they couldn’t hide. Kenny knows everybody and every rabbit hole in SoHum. Busted!
    We in SoHum are happy for you but we miss you down here. Fortunately you have some good officers taking your place.
    Congrats again!

  • Congratulations Kenny, always liked you as a person. Remember the good old days when you coached our sons soccer team. Best of luck…

  • Congratulations Kenny Swithenbank.. you deserve this promotion!!!

  • congrats !!!! see you around town….!

  • Congratulations

  • Amanda Swithenbank

    Congratulations Dad!!! I love you and I’m so very proud of you.

  • I am so happy for you, Kenny…it was great when we worked together…this is your town, and I know you love this area…miss seeing you, hope to see you in the future..congratulations, my friend!

  • Wow !!!! That’s awesome…. Great job friend and class mate … You totally earned it…..Say safe out there…..

  • Congratulations Kenny! It’s been a “couple” of years since we’ve seen each other but it’s good to see you doing well! Love to catch up one of these days. Kym can get ahold of me. Great job my friend!

  • Congrats Kenny. Good seeing you last week.

  • Kenny “you’ll need to get your own gun to defend yourself” Swithenbank will be dealing with community complaints!? Can’t wait to hear how this goes.

  • Congrats 🎉 on your promotion!!

  • Congratulations and we miss having guys like you in the community, hope the replacements can be as balanced as you are!

  • Lt. Swithenbank, I offer you my heartiest congratulations. I’ve experienced your professionalism as an end user of law enforcement services in a highly emotionally charged situation. You maintained your cool and kept a volatile situation from further escalating. I love it when the good guy gets recognized. Good on ya!

  • Congratulations Kenny and thank you for your many years of compassionate service. Best of luck to you in your new role.

  • Congratulations Kenny. Your hard work and dedication to law enforcement and SoHum has paid off. Be safe!

  • Kenny, you are the only one I know to have fallen off the Airport bluff’s down to the river and survived Speed DeVee’s ambulance ride to the hospital, now we know why. Awesome job and congratulations from the Voice Family…

  • Congratulations Kenny! I always remember your very calm demeanor…a very important asset in your chosen profession. I will look forward to seening your face down here once and a while. Best of luck to you!

  • Kenny proud to have rode and worked with you. I knew you would make it. In fact told us so!

  • Congratulations.

  • great news….congrats on ur new title and assignment. it has been great knowing you all these years and been a pleasure seeing u lately. hope to see u again around here.

  • Congratulations Kenny you deserve it

  • Ken, Great to see! Hard to think of my best childhood friend behind a desk, but as noted in the article your impact will be multiplied thru your leadership. Good luck!

  • A Laurel, and Hardy handshake!

  • Congratulations! Well deserved! So. HUM is proud of you!

  • Congratulations Kenny! Thank you for all you have done for our community and continue to do in your new position. You are missed!

  • Another enforcer for the SARB hitler youth!

  • Susan Swithenbank

    Well done little brother. Very proud of you!

  • This is great news , Kenny is a very good human being and a very dedicated officer. I have never seen him be unfair to anybody.

    • Just give me 45 days. I’ll get rid of ’em all.” –Humboldt Sheriff’s Ken Swithenbank to Chamber of Commerce about HOUSELESS PEOPLE in SoHum

      They rolled up on the park with 8 cops, …the officer driving the paddy wagon was swinging shakles. There were 10 people in Vets park, 5 being new returning veterans…

      The solution is “just to make it uncomfortable here for them.” –EPD’s Murl Harpham regarding houseless people in Eureka.

      Humboldt Sheriff’s Ken Swithenbank Retaliates Against Member of Public for Making Records Request

      Kenny Swithenbank is a notoriously corrupt, abusive, uneducated, ignorant whore. He has repeatedly violated peoples civil rights by harassing them, arresting them without cause, and making illegal threats. He should be removed from the HCSO and charged with corruption by the Attorney General. There is no law against sitting in the park and Kenny violated the Constitutional rights of his victims by ordering them to leave the park and threatening to arrest them for sitting.
      That insensitive sociopath never misses a meal, and I don’t think he could go one day without food.

  • Congratulations! Great photo… looks like a genuinely nice, happy guy.

  • Runs-with-weed-wacker

    Thanks for asking me if I’ve been being harassed. You’re cool. Congratulations on your new position.

  • So happy for your promotion. You sure committed yourself to Southern Humboldt and I’m sure all of us are proud and thankful for your help and accomplishments. Good Luck. I sure miss Garberville….

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