Jake Dominguez sworn in as department’s latest recruit
■ By Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
A big smile, a round of applause, and his wife pinning his badge on his neatly pressed uniform, and Officer Jake Dominguez was sworn in this week as the latest officer to join the growing ranks of the Hemet Police Department.
There was a sense of appreciation mixed with relief as Dominguez took the oath of office to uphold the law and protect the vulnerable older residents of Hemet from an element of society that law-abiding citizens have seen far too much of these past few years.
One couldn’t help but be a bit apprehensive, yet hopeful, that Dominguez’ training will protect him out on the street until his experience catches up and he becomes a watchful and seasoned Hemet officer capable of handling any situation life throws at him. Not to worry, however, as Dominguez already has four years experience and comes from active patrol duty with the Blythe Police Department. He will work patrol out of Hemet’s Operations Bureau.
The sly smile that crept across the face of Dominguez’ wife, Nancy, as she pinned on her husband’s badge was one that she couldn’t suppress during this once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was pure pride, a feeling that was shared by everyone present from police officials, including Chief Rob Webb, to the city council, represented by Mayor Michael Perciful, the Hemet Chamber of Commerce – Richard Perry, Dr. Lakshman Koka and Andy Anderson – and the group Keep Hemet Safe, present in the body of Howard Rosenthal.
Rosenthal wasn’t shy about reminding those present – again – that the money available to pay for Dominguez’ salary, and for a larger police force in general, comes from the Measure U sales tax, a hard-won initiative that members of his organization eventually got passed by raising more than $400,000 in campaign funds to convince an aging and wary electorate of its absolute necessity.
Seeing the pleased look on Dominguez’ face, and the fatherly pride that Webb showed in his presence, one had to suspect that Webb may have pulled out all the stops to convince this young officer that Hemet was the place to be for the next few years, anyway, to further a highly promising career. They say you need to put your money where your mouth is, and Hemet is doing just that by now offering a $15,000 signing bonus for lateral transfers from other departments.
Hopefully, the sense of gratitude and appreciation so present in the city council chambers during Dominguez swearing-in will extend outward into the community and find expression in unseen ways to support him and the other officers on the force who work night and day to keep Hemet safe. As those present would undoubtedly say, it’s important to the city and its residents that these new officers like where they work and remain on the force after their contractual obligations have been met.