Chief thanks command team for department loyalty
■ Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
It was a day filled with pride as five top-performing officers received promotions and new badges to go along with enhanced levels of responsibility designed to help the Hemet Police Department fulfill its sworn duties to the people of Hemet.
“Today we officially ushered in the Hemet Police Department’s reorganization,” said Chief Rob Webb in a statement. “This will enable your police department to be more responsive and efficient.”
The promotions were a sign that the new chief isn’t afraid to shake things up in a department that was the subject of criticism from one of its own only a few months earlier. New recruit Anthony Kitchen, who moved from San Diego to join the force, left in shock shortly after signing on with the department when he was confronted by examples of racism and favoritism he considered so unprofessional that he didn’t want to stay long enough to fulfil his contractual obligation.
While he decided to keep the $10,000 signing bonus even though he left before his contact was up resulted in a legal dispute that was eventually turned over to an outside firm for investigation. While the results of that investigation haven’t yet been made public, one can only surmise that Monday’s departmental shakeup and promotions within the police department were an effort to clean house from the top down and put officers in charge who are known for their honesty, integrity, and high ethical standards.
All the officers promoted stand out for their willingness to take on the tough tasks associated with cleaning up Hemet, but Webb took special note of a young corporal he said came to the department with glowing recommendations from his former civilian employer. Newly appointed Cpl. Art Paez rolled up his sleeves to take on some of the “dirtiest” jobs the department had to offer, cleaning up the city of trash, the homeless, drug addicts, and prostitutes, said Webb. His reward came Monday when Paez’ wife and daughter got to pin dad’s shiny new corporal’s badge on his immaculately pressed uniform and see him move to the department’s Investigations Bureau.
Another standout among those promoted is Capt. Glen Brock (formerly Lt. Brock) whose open-minded approach to policing included his befriending members of the staff of the Valley Chronicle, all of whom wish him the best of luck in his new role as captain of the Support Division.
The Operations Division is perhaps one of the most critical within the police department and where one might say, the rubber meets the road. It’s where the officers work who interface with the public and the behaviors and standards they share are what create the impression of the force in the mind of the public. New leadership in the Operations Division is particularly interesting at this point in time, and it’s worth noting that it will be overseen by Capt. Edward Pust and on a day-to-day basis by Lt. Nathan Miller.
Newly appointed Sgt. Michael Hall will now be a watch commander and have to oversee the men and women out in the field as they make split-second life and death decisions on the street. The idea is to keep volatile situations under control, ensure the officers’ safety, and aggressively protect the public without undue risk to life and property. Explaining the next day to higher-ups what happened the night before takes a certain amount of skill and discretion that Sgt. Hall will, we’re sure, be adept at.
Webb addressed the issue of departmental promotions overall during the ceremony and noted that some people have been waiting a long time to take a step up in the ranks. That sort of movement is often difficult in a small department and particularly so when there is no growth in the size of the force, something Webb said was in the process of changing. He urged others to stick with the department and grow along with it as the future would bring expanded opportunities.