CALEXICO — From local beat cop to beloved police chief, Gonzalo Gerardo appears to have entered some rarified air in Calexico by being widely admired.
He has won the appreciation
of the city council, city staff, the police officers’ union and the city Police
Gerardo was elevated to interim
chief in 2018 and made permanent a year ago. He was awarded a modest salary
increase during a Dec. 9 special council meeting when the council unanimously
approved amending his three-year contract.
At the meeting he was showered
with praise, indicative of support from disparate groups who do not always
agree on other matters.
Calexico in recent
decades has had a long list of police chiefs, several of whom have found
considerable trouble and disdain.
History of Chiefs
Starting with Leslie Ginn
in 1991 and followed by Torvio Flores, Myron Galchutt, Mike Singh, Tommy
Tunson, Mario Sanchez, Jim Neujahr, Pompeyo Tabarez Sr., Michael Bostic and
Reggie Gomez — all the chiefs under whom Gerardo has worked in his 28-year
career in Calexico — each top cop has been lavished with praise by one group
or another. Others despised some of them.
Some chiefs were
favorites of administrators and council members, while others were more aligned
with their patrol officers. Others deeply divided their department and their
city, but none in the last couple of decades have appeared to appeal to just
An example of Gerardo’s
popularity comes from the police union’s letter of confidence, which was
provided in the backup to the Dec. 9 meeting agenda. It read:
“lt is with pleasure that
the men and woman of the Calexico Police Officers’ Association take the
position of supporting Calexico Chief of Police Gonzalo Gerardo with this
‘LETTER OF CONFIDENCE.’ Since taking the helm of the Calexico Police Department
nearly a year ago, Chief Gerardo has led the CPD with professionalism,
integrity and a clear vision of putting the needs of the community and members
of his department first,” states the association letter.
“Chief Gerardo truly
cares and is dedicated to the community members in which he serves and men and
woman who serve under his command. No chief to date has been able to maintain
such a positive relationship with subordinates (while) maintaining a productive
relationship with city administration as the two rarely go hand (in) hand,” the
But it has pretty much
always been that way for a man most in the community known simply as “Chalo.” A
product of local schools and a family known for having big hearts and dedicated
to community service, those who have known Gerardo in and outside of law
enforcement have seen him as a positive person quick with a smile, kind and
“He cares immensely about
this community and his leadership shows that,” said his longtime friend, John
Moreno, who has known the chief since they were youths in the 1970s.
Moreno, principal at
Aurora High School, was also a member of the Calexico City Council from 2008-2016,
where he saw his friend rise through the ranks at the department.
“He sets the tone through
his leadership. He says, ‘I’m a listener and I’m a doer,’” the former mayor explained.
Moreno recalled when he was
on the council Gerardo always called him and his fellow council members back to
explain issues or answer questions.
Gerardo is a “great fit
for leadership at the Police Department,” Moreno added.
A 30-year veteran, patrol
Sgt. Victor Legaspi noted he has witnessed Gerardo’s growth from a part-time
reserve officer to the top position, and he sees what makes the chief special.
“What I see that makes
him different is he’s a people person. … I know Chalo. You can go into his
office, have a sit-down with him, and he listens,” Legaspi said. “He’s a good
friend, and a great mentor for officers.”
Legaspi said Gerardo
always comes to work with a smile, likes to hang out and talk with younger
officers and is known to send out the occasional inspirational email to his
officers, usually with quotes from some of history’s great leaders.
Those qualities are what
prompted the Calexico Police Advisory Commission to also write a letter of
support for the chief when it came time to consider his raise.
“We at the Police
Advisory commission are pleased to have a police chief that has demonstrated
time and time again his ability to provide vision, transparency, leadership and
uncompromising commitment to the city of Calexico and the Police Department. We,
the Police Advisory Commission, voted unanimously in support of drafting this
letter of support supporting Chief Gerardo. Thus, we wholeheartedly and
unequivocally recommend your continued support of Chief Gerardo’s continued
leadership of our Calexico Police Department,” said the letter, signed by commission
chairman Orlando Espino.