By Bill Rams
It’s an exciting new era at the Anaheim Police Department.
Raul Quezada, 44, was sworn in today as the first Latino police chief in the agency’s 144-year history. And joining him are new leaders at every level of the police department.
About 500 people packed an Anaheim Convention Center ballroom to congratulate the city’s 33rd police chief and the other promoted employees.
The appointment is a resounding endorsement of Quezada’s commitment to problem solving and community policing. Such a focus has gone a long way in strengthening bridges between police officers and residents of Anaheim.
“First, he believes in connecting with and serving our community,” said City Manager Marcie Edwards, who selected Quezada for the job. “And second, he wanted to create and support an environment where the men and women of the police department can do their best work.”
During his eight months as interim police chief, Quezada, who is fluent in Spanish, has won the respect of many residents for rebuilding trust in the APD — following civil unrest in July 2012.
“Community engagement will remain our top priority,” Quezada said, outlining the steps the department has taken since the unrest of 2012. “We will work hard to earn and maintain your trust, and we will be an open and transparent organization.”
As interim police chief, Quezada sought to ease tensions in the city by launching a series of community meetings with residents of several working-class Latino neighborhoods.
He also created a Neighborhood Advisory Council, added foot patrols and had the department post police policies online. He has mandated the use of audio recorders and is looking to equip officers with video recorders that clip on to the front of their uniforms to capture their interactions with the public.
“We have come so far from the events of 2012 and we will continue to work side by side with the community and together we will continue to make Anaheim a safe place to live, work and play,” he said.
Also sworn in on Wednesday:
- Deputy Chief Julian Harvey, a 22-year veteran of the APD whose assignments have included bureau commander for crimes person, special events and gang enforcement; he’s also worked patrol, internal affairs, as a gang investigator, pilot, flight instructor and leader of the Orange County Family Justice Center.
- Capt. Ben Hittesdorf, a veteran of the APD since 1990, has served as a sergeant in patrol, gangs and internal affairs, and as a lieutenant working as a watch commander and a commander in the areas of strategic service, air support, and crimes against persons.
- Lt. Jeff Hemerson, who joined the APD as a police officer in 1992. Hemerson has worked in patrol, traffic, community policing, family crimes, sex crimes, training and SWAT.
- Sgt. Jonathan Yepes, who has worked at APD since 2006 as a patrol officer, gang investigator and most recently as a robbery detective. Yepes has also worked for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Downey PD.
- Officer Adrian Yeo-Hyun Yoon, 22, a new hire, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology, law and society from UC Irvine.
- Forensics Supervisor Mark Sveinson, a 23-year veteran of the forensics detail who served as a traffic control supervisor for 10 years.