Two days after the city of Anaheim hosted Major League Baseball’s All-Star game, the Anaheim Police Department bid farewell to two all-stars of its own.
Thursday afternoon was filled with laughter and a few watery eyes as the department honored the service of retiring Capt. Chuck O’Connor and Lt. Chris Sayers. More than 150 people jammed the training auditorium and dozens more watched the retirement and promotion ceremony from closed-circuit television outside.
They cheered as captain bars were pinned on a woman for the first time in department history.
And Police Chief John Welter presented new badges to seven other promoted employees, including APD’s third- and fourth-ever female lieutenants. He also acknowledged Officer Eric Grosotti for earning his commercial helicopter pilot’s license.
O’Connor, a homeland security expert who spent years on the SWAT team, is the third captain to retire in the past seven months.
Lt. Brian McElhaney described him as a mentor to many and “the heart of the police department.” Later, Welter and his command staff presented him with his service revolver, which now includes an inscription.
“My career was a lot of fun,” O’Connor said. “I really appreciate the way everybody treated me for 30 years. It’s been great. I’m going to miss you.”
Sayers plans to work for Disney in retirement; he even wore a pin – a violation of dress code, Welter said – on his uniform. “It’s been an absolute pleasure,” he said. “And for all of you asking for a job or for me to get you in free, don’t count on it.”
Welter said the department is blessed “to have a great pool of people to promote from.” He turned to the newly minted lieutenants and captain. “Great things are expected of you,” he said.
Replacing O’Connor as operations division captain is Belinda Brewer. Nobody mentioned her distinction as the first female captain.
When asked why afterward, Welter said it’s “an indication of how far the law enforcement community has come. Her promotion was no different than any other promotion. It was based on individual merit. She does great work.”
In her remarks, Brewer discussed how the police department’s collaborative approach to public safety serves as an outstanding model for other agencies. It was on display during last week’s all-star festivities, she said.
“I will strive to continue to build a collaborative environment in our community,” she said. “I look forward to an exciting and challenging future.”
Promoted to lieutenant are Tim Schmidt, Kelly Jung and Sharon Pietrok. Promoted to sergeant are James Rodriguez and Mike Alpine, whose father is a retired APD sergeant.
Also promoted were new communications supervisor Steven Goodwyn and senior police dispatcher Michelle Siemer.