■ Kyle Selby / Reporter
Hemet Police Chief Dave Brown offered new staffing details during his regular public safety update at the May 9 City Council meeting, including the hiring of a lateral officer and the promotion of Officer Matt Gomez to detective.
Officer Joshua Featherly joins the Hemet Police Department with more than six years of police experience from San Diego. Chief Brown also announced that another officer from San Diego County, with nine years of experience, will start May 22. Lateral hires are eligible for a $15,000 signing bonus.
“This will make four [from San Diego], and we have another outstanding candidate in the process,” said Brown, who noted that Hemet Officer Nick Troncale, formerly from San Diego PD’s gang unit, has been recruiting other San Diego officers to Hemet. “Their loss, but our gain.”
Last month HPD made another lateral gain, this time from San Bernardino, with the hiring of Luis Reyes. The drive to protect and serve flows through Reyes’ veins as he is retired military, serving our country for 26 years in the National Guard and the United States Army in infantry, airborne and as a senior drill instructor at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
As for HPD’s entry level recruitment process, 117 applicants were invited to their physical agility test; 73 passed; and 46 of those were invited to a written aptitude exam Tuesday morning.
“If history repeats itself, about 50 percent will pass that; it’s not an easy aptitude test,” explained Brown. He estimated about 25 applicants will be brought in as result.
HPD promotes Gomez to detective
Detective Matt Gomez, whose K9 companion, Jack, passed away just three weeks ago after a short battle with cancer, is switching gears and started in the Detective Bureau last Monday. Brown stated that Gomez’ new supervisor, Lt. Eddie Pust, will assign cases to Gomez soon.
Alleviating some of the burden from the other detectives has been a growing concern arising in the public as of late. People like Corinna Moreno-Ramirez, and Joe Males – both parents of separate homicide victims from the past year – have been vocal about the lack of help they have received from HPD’s detective bureau.
“He kind of told me that he had a heavy caseload,” said Joe Males at the meeting. Males described the conversation he had the week prior with Det. Klinzing, the detective investigating his son Nicholas’ case. “I asked him what his caseload was, and he said he had 40 cases, four of them being 187 [murder]…so he has 40 cases that he’s working on…and he said the other detectives were just as busy.”
Moreno-Ramirez, whose son’s alleged killers were recently arrested, is thrilled that another detective is finally being added to HPD’s roster.
“I think Matt Gomez is going to be really great, I really do,” said Moreno-Ramirez. “He seems like he really cares about families.”
Moreno-Ramirez’ famed mission began when she found out that her son, Daniel, had been deceased for five days before she was ever notified. For the next five months, she pressured the City Council – begging for answers, and suggesting that the City offer a reward to the public. The Valley Chronicle has been publicizing her very vocal journey.
On March 28, her wishes were granted when the Hemet City Council approved the proposal of a $10,000 reward for crime tips in active HPD homicide investigations. Not two weeks later – based on eyewitness account – two young men were arrested for the murder of her son.