Our Opinion: The drama continues

November 20, 2001

While many of the long-running political dramas seem to have come to welcome ends in Calexico, the continuing police chief drama in the city is starting a new act.

Just a few years ago there was the, "Is He Here? Is He Leaving? Is He Still Chief?" saga of then-Calexico Police Chief Myron Galchutt, in which Galchutt seemed to be on the precipice as chief for years. Galchutt, a grizzled cop, had as many supporters as detractors in the Police Department, but for some reason (and we don't want to guess) the City Council and others in the city seemed to want him out soon after he arrived.

After he finally left, a lengthy search for a police chief was conducted that brought even more controversy, and a lawsuit, upon the city.

The city finally settled on Tommy Tunson as a chief. Although he had the credentials for the job, he was something new and different for Calexico. As one local leader recently pointed out, he was "black and tall and bald." We would add "bold" to that description.


Tunson had no problem being visible in a town where he definitely stood out. He let people in Calexico know he was their police chief and that he and his officers were there to help. He set up new patrol assignments and kept cops on the streets and working hard despite the department being understaffed.

Tunson also helped start and get funding for a countywide, street-level anti-drug team that has already showed significant results.

It would be hard to say Tunson was a bad chief, although both he and the City Council seemed to agree in recent months that it was time he started looking for a new job. We don't know the details of the discontent between the two sides and no one is rushing forward to tell us.

Tunson did find a new job recently, as deputy chief in South Gate in the Los Angeles area. Tunson seems to be wading into another big brawl there, as the city and its police force are already squaring off, but things like that don't seem to faze Tunson.

We wish him luck.

We also wish the City Council luck in finding a new police chief. As much as we don't like provincialism, it takes a certain type of person to prosper in the Imperial Valley, so local candidates should be given a hard look first because they are more likely to stay in the job for awhile. There are many fine police officers in the Valley who would do a great job as Calexico police chief.

A bilingual chief is another good idea for Calexico, although those who are not bilingual should not be ruled out on that basis alone.

All in all, what Calexico needs is a good cop who will be a good chief and thereby end the drama for a few years. It's time that the curtain closed on this show.

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