■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Last month, the first moves of the Measure U law enforcement implementation plan were presented before a crowd of dozens, including business owners, welcoming the newest recruit to Hemet Police Department at City Hall in Hemet.
When Travis Hamby joined the HPD on Jan. 4, three existing officers were promoted as well. Glen Brock was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant, Gabriel Gomez from corporal to sergeant, and Bryan Cunningham from officer to corporal. The three will be a part of the new Special Operations Bureau.
“These three individuals represent the first wave of progress in the effort to revitalize our community,” said Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown. “These promotions give us the ability to establish a Special Operations Bureau that will be tasked with aggressively attacking the quality-of-life issues that have plagued our community in recent years, which will focus on public nuisance crimes.”
The HPD officers were awarded their respective new badges, as well as complimentary gift baskets from the Hemet-San Jacinto Valley Chamber of Commerce.
“The symbolism of having new officers and promoted officers surrounded by the business community shows the community supports them,” said Brown. “The visual of that is the best thing that happened this morning.”
The new hire and promotions are just the first moves under Measure U, a 1 percent general fund sales tax increase that was approved by Hemet voters in November, which the council promised to use only for the enhancement of public safety in Hemet.
Starting April 1, The Measure U sales tax will increase by one percentage point, with an expectation of an additional $10 million per year in its coffers.
Hemet also hired a new K9 team last month, consisting of Officer Andrew Reynoso and 92-pound Belgian Malinois K9 Mac. K9 Mac is currently training in patrol work — locating, controlling, and apprehending criminal suspects, locating missing persons, evidence location, and handler protection.
In December, three officers graduated from the 203rd San Bernardino Sheriff’s Basic Academy: Officer Alex Reynoso, Officer Eric Lynton, and Officer Dylan Vrooman.
Hemet Fire Department kicked off its Measure U program with a peak-demand unit that will handle medical calls, while paramedics will work during times when there is most demand for service in most serious situations.
“The peak-demand unit is very unique but represents one of very similar steps I’ll be taking as we move forward with the operational changes as part of Measure U,” said Hemet Fire Chief Scott Brown. “I’m excited about it.”
The six newest recruits of firefighter paramedics, Josh Klimek, Zack Petite, Andrew Tusa, Robert Schwartz, Daniel Hayes and Jordan Ruston are currently in a six-week training program before they are assigned to an HFD station. Eight people within the department have also been promoted.
“Our newest members represent the future of the organization,” said Brown. “We are proud to have them join the Hemet Fire Department Team.”
Brown states that he is “aggressively pursuing” the outfitting and staffing increases that go along with the recent purchase of two new engines, and the eventual opening of Station 5, which he hopes to see open in March.