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Calexico mulls Sanchez for chief

November 21, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — The hood of Chief Tommy Tunson's Calexico Police Department-issued Ford is still warm as residents here talk about who will replace him.

Tunson's final day as chief is Tuesday.

At a recent council meeting, longtime Calexico resident Godofredo Mendez asked the council to hire a bilingual-in- Spanish police chief. He said Calexico police Cmdr. Mario Sanchez should be considered for the position.

Mayor Victor Carrillo and Mayor Pro Tem John Renison agree with Mendez.

Carrillo said, "It would behoove Rich (City Manager Richard Inman) to give Cmdr. Sanchez the opportunity.

"It would be a smooth transition for the department."

Renison said the council should revisit the qualifications required of the city's police chief since Sanchez was not allowed to apply for the job when Tunson was hired two and a half years ago.

"I don't think we can close the door. We need to open the door," Renison said.

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Sanchez was ineligible to apply for the job the last time it was open because he did not have a bachelor's degree.

Regarding the bachelor's degree requirement, Carrillo said, "We could see it made conditional so that if we have the opportunity to offer him a contract we could give him a year or two years to pick up the college units that he is short.

"Then we can revisit and assess his job performance."

Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said the city should keep the same requirements as when Tunson was hired.

Carrillo said, "That's a good standard to have but how common is it for chiefs (across the country) to have a bachelor's degree?"

Asked for his personal opinion, Renison said, "I would favor someone that is bilingual and someone that knows and has a feel for the border."

Carrillo said Sanchez fits that bill.

"He has 25 years of experience in law enforcement with an impeccable job performance record. He's disciplined and I think he would make an excellent chief," Carrillo said.

Councilman Frank Montoya said the council should hire the best man for the job. "And that's a decision we have to make."

On Dec. 4 the council will consider ratifying Inman's recommendation for interim police chief, Renison said.

Councilman Javier Alatorre said he will wait to comment on possible candidates until the city manager makes his recommendation.

Asked if he thought the requirements should be changed to accommodate Sanchez, Alatorre said, "I don't think the decision should be personal. It should be beneficial to the city and the department in general."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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