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Sanchez appointed Calexico police chief

December 19, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Cmdr. Mario Sanchez will be sworn in as this city's police chief at 2 p.m. Friday.

During a closed session at Tuesday night's City Council meeting, the council voted unanimously to give the veteran of the police force the job he has sought for years.

Tuesday night Sanchez said he would sign the two-year contract he was offered.

This council's recent embracing of Sanchez is a marked contrast to how he characterized his relationship with city fathers in 1999.

In December of that year, Sanchez filed a claim against the city that alleged council members engaged in conspiratorial actions to deny him a chance to apply for the chief's position.

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One of the job requirements for chief at the time was a bachelor's degree. Legal counsel for Sanchez said the degree requirement was tacked on just to deny Sanchez a chance at the job.

Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said the requirement was added because the council was working to "raise the community's level of expectations."

"It was part of the mood of the whole council to require department heads to have paper behind them," he said.

The requirement of a bachelor's degree has since been scrapped, although Mayor Pro Tem John Renison said the council would encourage Sanchez to further his education.

Sanchez said he would return to college, "for my own personal satisfaction."

He said his No. 1 priority in the near future will be working to get more police officers patrolling the streets of Calexico.

"What I'm trying to do is put more service personnel out in the community," Sanchez said.

Grijalva said of Sanchez, "There is experience there. He'll prove that it was the right move. The integrity of the department will be restored."

Renison said, "The realization has come around — even to the doubters — that the townspeople and the City Council support him."

As one of his first efforts to get more officers on the streets, Sanchez said he will free up the crime-fighting services of one police officer by putting a civilian in charge of the Calexico Police Athletic League.

A police officer had been pulled off active patrol duty to manage the PAL.

Sanchez said his decision to put a civilian in charge was not motivated by the recent suspension of the officer who had been running the league.

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

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