Candidates bring varied pasts

May 01, 2013|By CHELCEY ADAMI | Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Beyond Pompeyo Tabarez, the identities of the other police chief candidates are becoming common knowledge as the hiring process drags on.

A source intimate with the hiring process confirmed the police chief candidates as Tabarez, a former Imperial County Sheriff’s Office sergeant; former Calipatria Police Chief Reggie Gomez; former Indio Police Chief Brad Ramos; Cocopah Tribal Police Chief James Spurgeon, and a man named Juan Rivera III, a retired sergeant with the San Diego Police Department.

Each candidate comes with unique histories.

Tabarez has already publicly responded that he feels he’s more than qualified for the position despite reservations by some police commissioners, referencing his 36 years with Sheriff’s Office. Tabarez ran unsuccessfully for sheriff in 2006 and for an Imperial Irrigation District Division 5 seat in November.

He’s taught at Imperial Valley College since 2009 and served on the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program board, Calexico Neighborhood House board and coached for high school wrestling teams.

Spurgeon was recognized as police chief of the year by the Native American Law Enforcement Association in 2009 for his “outstanding professional leadership” and partnerships forged with other agencies, according to the Yuma Sun. He has more than 20 years of experience in law enforcement and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy Program as well as a graduate of the FBI and Department of Justice Command College.

He was also one of 30 law enforcement executives chosen nationally to attend the Ninth Leading by Legacy training hosted by the International Association of Chiefs of Police last year.

Spurgeon did fall under some scrutiny last year after he reportedly left his gun at a Yuma apartment where a 6-year-old boy found it loaded and pointed it at his father, according to The Associated Press. However, no charges were filed since prosecutors felt there was “no reasonable likelihood of a conviction.” It is unclear what the results of the tribe’s internal investigation were.

Ramos worked with the Calexico Police Department for 14 years, leaving as a commander before heading to the Indio Police Department, where he was fired, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun.

Ramos once served as the Indio Youth Task Force executive director and testified in the federal trial of a grant writer that he violated bylaws by paying the grant writer $5 million to secure a $35 million state grant, according to Southern California Public Radio.

He worked briefly as a sergeant with the Desert Hot Springs Police Department before resigning last year, according to KMIR News.

Gomez served nine years as Calipatria police chief before resigning in 2009.

He was the subject of an annual performance evaluation in which Calipatria City Council was pursuing the possibility of terminating him, and council took no action after two hours in closed session.

Gomez resigned about a month later but insisted at the time that the evaluation didn’t have anything to do with his decision, according to Imperial Valley Press archives.

At the time of his resignation, he was a police officer for 28 years, 19 of which he spent with the Calexico Police Department, rising to the rank of administrative sergeant before being hired as chief in Calipatria.

Staff Writer Chelcey Adami can be reached at 760-337-3452 or

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