Pasadena's Interim Police Chief Seeks Permanent Appointment

Published : Friday, August 3, 2018 | 5:15 AM

The man who has served as Pasadena’s interim top cop for the past five months said he will throw his hat in the ring as the City moves to select a permanent police chief.

Interim Police Chief John Perez said he’s up to the challenge.

“The effort over the past few months has been positive and has momentum, so my decision to apply for the position is based on the current efforts being accomplished by so many people,” Perez told Pasadena Now.

But at the same time, Perez said his work, “seems unfinished, with more to do.”

“I am fortunate this decision is supported by my family, the Department and the community,” he said. “I also realize it will be a very competitive process with great candidates, so this will require much more than just applying for a job. It requires demonstrating I have the capacity and the skill sets to be the next Pasadena police chief.”

But he added that his top priority are the tasks at hand. “I don’t want the application process to take away from my primary responsibilities and my commitment to the Department and our community,” he said.

Perez took the helm of the Pasadena Police Department in March, following the retirement of Chief Phillip Sanchez.

Perez promptly initiated a “Change of Command Review,” in which the Department revisited some of its policies, including its body worn camera, which is currently under review.

The City has traditionally used an outside consulting company, the City Council and a citizens’ committee to help narrow down the list of candidates.

The City Manager has ultimate authority to hire the new Chief, City spokeswoman Lisa Derderian explained. Committees to aid in the selection process have yet to be formed.

No other candidates for the position have yet been announced, though Derderian said the city will embark on a national search.

Civil right attorney and frequent Pasadena Police Department critic Dale Gronemeier, a local civil rights attorney, said it makes no difference if the new Chief comes from within the Department or from across the country so long as he or she is the best candidate.

“I think our view of (Perez) is that he’s a highly qualified candidate and it’s been a breath of fresh air, but Pasadena should conduct a nationwide search and get the best person,” he said. “John brings to the table a long knowledge of the Department and is a person of color, so he, I would say, would be certainly an appropriate candidate, but I don’t think that there should be anything other than a nationwide search in which people from within the department are encouraged to apply if they have the credentials.”

The new Chief must be engaged with the community and be “prepared to weed out bad apples,” Gronemeier said.

The process should be a transparent one, to the extent practical, he said.

While the top candidates should be vetted publicly, keeping applicants names confidential early in the process would be OK, he said.

“Once there is a recommendation of three (candidates), the three finalists should be publicly announced. They should be available to interview by and questioned by the community,” he said.

During Perez’s tenure, the number of police use of force incidents has dropped from 26 to 14 in the first seven months of this year as compared to 2017.

Citizen complaint investigations in the same period have fallen from 19 to only six.

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