Sanchez to map Calexico police's future

December 20, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Maximizing the resources of the Police Department here will be one of the challenges facing Cmdr. Mario Sanchez after he is sworn in as the city's police chief.

Sanchez will be sworn in at 2 p.m. Friday. He will sign a two-year contract.

The department he takes control of Friday is short on officers and its pay rate is lower than in most parts of the state.

At a press conference Wednesday, Sanchez mapped out the tack he would take as he works to address the department's personnel issues.

The former police chief, Tommy Tunson, said the reason Calexico had a hard time retaining officers was low pay.

During Tunson's two-plus years as chief, the department was ravaged by personnel losses. Some officers left for higher wages and others were let go for disciplinary reasons.


Sanchez said he will not allow the department to focus on ancillary issues.

"Pay issues need to be set aside. We need to make sure we provide the service to the community," Sanchez said.

Sanchez said he'll leave "pay issues" to the City Council.

At the press conference, Mayor Pro Tem John Renison addressed the possibility of raises for public safety personnel.

"That's definitely on our plate. We're going to do what we need to do," he said.

As for the council's expectations, Renison said the council is looking to Sanchez to hire Calexico residents to serve on the force.

"We want to hire the best but people who are local if we can," Renison said.

Sanchez has vowed to do just that and wring out the most coverage from the officers he has until new officers are hired.

"We want to put as many officers in the field as possible," he added.

Putting officers in the field was a constant refrain from Tunson.

Officers complained that often Tunson was too zealous in his desire to get officers on the streets. Officers complained to higher-ups that Tunson would boot them out of the station even if they were doing paperwork.

On Tuesday the City Council approved a reorganization of the Police Department that creates two new lieutenant positions.

Sanchez said he will delegate responsibility to the lieutenants so they will be responsible for making sure reports are filled out and the streets are patrolled.

Sanchez said those lieutenants will be promoted from within the department.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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