Calexico Police Chief
Gonzalo Gerardo said he is often so busy with administrative work he is not as
visible as a chief from one of the county’s largest departments as he would
“I love staying busy, but
we do miss out on a lot of important meetings with other agencies and in the
community because there’s only two of us,” Gerardo told the Calexico City
Council on Nov. 6, referring to an increased workload he shares with a single
Gerardo went before the
council to make his case to re-open an unfunded lieutenant position and promote
from among his qualified sergeants and officers to fill the spot. To make that
happen the chief proposed leaving vacant one of five open police officer
positions to offset costs.
The council agreed,
approving the chief’s proposal with a 4-0 vote. The measure includes spending
up to $15,000 on an outside firm to administer the lieutenant test in-house.
Council member Morris Reisen was absent from the meeting.
Gerardo pointed out to
the council that nearly every other local law enforcement agency has at least
two lieutenants or commanders under the chief. During a recent interview
Gerardo said he is working alongside his operations lieutenant, who primarily oversees
the patrol division.
He added he needs a
support-services lieutenant. That position would oversee all nonsworn
personnel, such as dispatchers, animal control officers and traffic-meter
officers, the investigations unit, and the records and evidence divisions, as
well as administer grants.
Benefits of Going
To save the city money,
Gerardo said he will promote from within his ranks exclusively. If none of his
officers or sergeants can pass the lieutenants’ exam he will abandon the idea
and leave the position vacant.
He said going in-house
will help save up to $50,000 a year in overtime. Although a lieutenant would
command a higher base salary, he or she would be an exempt employee no longer be
eligible for the overtime pay sergeants and officers can earn.
told the council he wants to stay in-house “because nothing brings up the
morale more than to promote from within. That tells your officers you are
willing to give them a chance to prove themselves.”
Former Mayor Riles Chief
Former city mayor and
council member Joong Kim made his usual appearance to criticize the council and
staff stating, “They say in Calexico, so
many chiefs, but not enough Indians … Calexico needs more officers first.”
Kim riled up Gerardo and
another police official when he started criticizing the decision to recruit
from inside the department.
“When you go to
management, you should have somebody proven from the outside,” Kim said.
Gerardo nearly ran back
up to the dais to take Kim to task for insulting him and his officers.
“I rose up through the
ranks to be chief,” Gerardo said, “and it’s insulting to my officers to say
management can’t go in-house. Every city and the (county) Sheriff’s Office goes
in-house for its management positions.”
Representing the Calexico
Police Officers’ Association, Sgt. Sean Acuna, came up to show the
association’s support for the chief’s plan, but he also turned his attention to
“History has shown that
officers hired from the inside always flourish … What the chief talked about
with morale being boosted, it’s so true,” he said. “It shows that command staff
has confidence in its subordinates. Going from the outside has always been
disastrous. We’ve had so many chiefs from other entities in the past that
Calexico has never prospered from it.”
Acuna also took the
opportunity to set the record straight with the department’s attempts to fill
its empty but funded officer positions.
“We’re actively trying to
hire police officers, but there’s not a big pool of applicants, and the
applicants we’ve had have not been successful in the testing process. Two who
tested well didn’t make it through the training program,” Acuna said. “We have
high standards here in Calexico. It’s a fast-paced police department. It’s not for
He added the department
has hired eight officers in the last year, but only three of those officers
remain with the department.
“It’s a very intense
training process,” Acuna said.
Before voting, Mayor Pro
Tem David Romero said, “I think it makes logical sense to start in-house first.
… Those officers have a knowledge of the community, a knowledge of the streets
and trust in the community.”
The chief, in his
report to the council as part of the agenda for the Nov. 6 meeting, described
the requirements to apply for the lieutenant’s position. He reported only
sergeants and officers who hold a supervisory California Commission on Peace
Officer Standards and Training certificate, or an officer with a bachelor’s
degree or higher and an Advanced POST certificate, would be eligible to apply. Gerardo
noted he does have several staff members with these qualifications.