The community is mourning the passing of a police officer described by both colleagues and the residents he served as “one of the good ones.”
San Pablo police officer William “Ken” Zink, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in Vallejo while on the way to work Thursday morning, was described as a top-notch cop — a two-time winner of Officer of the Year for his department — who was humble, approachable and irreplaceable.
The San Pablo Police Employees Association listed his many accomplishments in an online fundraiser to assist Zink’s family with afterlife expenses. The 53-year-old Zink, a Dixon resident, had been preparing to retire soon, the association said.
“Ken Zink was a prime example of a positive and productive member of society,” police said. “If all of us accomplished even a fraction of his good deeds, the world would be a better place.”
Before becoming a cop, Zink served in the U.S. Coast Guard and performed assignments including narcotic interdiction. He was sworn as an El Cerrito Police Department officer in 2001, then joined San Pablo police in 2007. During his time in San Pablo, he worked in patrol, bike patrol, as detective, in traffic enforcement, and for the West Contra Costa Narcotic Enforcement Team (West-NET). He most recently served as School Resource Officer (SRO).
“Ken had a passion and a true knack for narcotic enforcement,” police said.
In 2010 and 2014, Zink was named San Pablo PD Officer of the Year. In 2010, he was also named “Case Agent of the Quarter” by the Department of Justice San Francisco Regional Office of the Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement.
In 2014, he won the Al Stewart Award from the California Narcotics Officers Association for Narcotic Officer of the Year. That honor occurred as the result of Operation Crystal Lens, a two year investigation affecting the Sinaloa Cartel, Norteño gang members and additional suspects. The massive bust led to the seizure of 475 pounds of methamphetamine worth over $17 million dollars, more than $950,000 in cash, additional narcotics, firearms and vehicles.
“With the listed achievements and the dangerous clientele that Ken dealt with on the streets, one might assume that he was a hard-nosed and unapproachable cop,” police said. “Ken was the exact opposite.”
He greeted folks with hugs and smiles, truly wanted to see San Pablo residents thrive and despised how drugs damage youth.
Local residents and community leaders agreed with the sentiment.
“We lost a good officer that really cared about the kids and the San Pablo community,” said Gonzalo Rucobo, founder of Bay Area Peacekeepers.
The students, teachers and administrators at Helms Middle School are also grieving the loss.
Zink leaves behind seven children, among other relatives.
“Ken truly loved kids and committed a great deal of his time to volunteer work outside of the PD. He is irreplaceable.”