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Outgoing Pasadena Police Chief John Perez Presides Over His Final ‘Chief’s Breakfast’

Published on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 | 12:16 pm
 

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez, who is set to retire early next year, joined in his third and final “Chief’s Breakfast” event at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday.

The event is the primary annual fundraiser for the Pasadena Police Foundation, which is a community organization centered around supporting the Police Department, PPF President Gil Mares said.

For the past two years, the funds have been used to provide college-bound students with laptop computers and help the Pasadena Unified School District with other technology needs amid the COVID-19 pandemic, an idea that originated with Perez.

“We are not going to raise money for cars, equipment and all these different things. We are, in fact, going to raise money for our youth, because that’s the way it should be,” the chief said.

He thanked the PPF for its longstanding support, community members, and the officers who served under him since he took command of the department in late 2018.

“Thank you for letting me serve with you guys. Thank you for all you’ve done. I look forward to the next few months, but I can’t thank you enough for all that you do.”

Perez has announced plans to retire early next year following more than 36 years with the Pasadena Police Department.

Perez credited his staff with the department’s accomplishments during his tenure.

The rates of violent crime and serious crimes have reached their lowest levels in 50 years, he said.

“It doesn’t just mean a drop in crime; it means that we have less crime victims, less people being traumatized by being a victim of crime, and that goes a long way toward the quality of life in our community,” according to Perez.

While much work lies ahead, the recent trends indicate the department is “on the right path,” he said.

The Pasadena Police Department is preparing to launch a new community-oriented policing model, and incidents of use of force by officers have declined by 30% over the past three years, Perez said.

A wellness unit that includes a psychologist has been formed to help support officers’ mental health, Perez said.

The chief said he’s emphasized prevention over enforcement.

“With more prevention comes less enforcement, and that intervention in between is so important,” he said.

As many departments struggle to maintain adequate staffing levels, the Pasadena Police Department hired 80 new officers and 130 new employees last year, Perez said. “We are hiring more from the community,” he added.

While there are differing opinions on policing, “At the end of the day, it’s about unity, trying to bring people together. The more we can talk together about our issues, the more we can come to solutions that we need… real solutions for long-term problems,” Perez said.

Dignitaries at the event included Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo and several council members, Pasadena Fire Chief Chad Augustin, state Sen.Anthony Portantino, D-Pasadena, and others. The event was emceed by longtime Southern California news anchor Jeff Michael.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) provided a video message.

“For years now, the Pasadena Police Foundation has maintained a strong legacy of giving back to your community by providing such important services, like training and education and mentorship,” Chu said.

Programs such as the Kids Safety Academy have been of great benefit to the community, she added.

“Thanks to the support raised at events like todays, the Pasadena Police Foundation is able to continue its important work of supporting first responders, uplifting our use and strengthening ties with the community,” according to Chu.

“I’m so excited to see how the funds raised at today’s breakfast will continue to benefit such deserving students here in Pasadena.

Chu also commended Perez on his career.

“Thank you, Chief Perez, for your decades of dedication to the city of Pasadena,” she said. “And thank you to the Pasadena Police Foundation for the incredible work you do in supporting our community.”

Gordo also thanked Perez for his “stellar career.”

Gordo said he often refers to Pasadena as the “center of the universe.” But he said it’s not the city’s buildings or institutions that make it that way.

“It’s all of you,” he said. “I’d like to personally thank you for your contributions, not just to the Police Foundation, but to the people that the Police Foundation supports, because that’s ultimately what makes a difference in our city and creates a sense of place that makes us the center of the universe.”

Pasadena Police Department Cmdr. Jason Clawson was surprised with the honor of “Officer of the Year,” at the ceremony, also known as the Yanish Family Award.

Clawson joined the Pasadena PD in 1991 after serving as a firefighter in the U.S. Navy, according to the agency.

Clawson joined the Pasadena PD in 1991 after serving as a firefighter in the U.S. Navy, according to the agency.

He’s held multiple assignments during his nearly three decades with the department. He received the Chief’s Special Award for Excellence in 2005 due to his work on a complex murder investigation.

He traveled to El Salvador in 2012 under the Central American Law Enforcement Exchange program as part of an international effort to combat transnational gang problems.

After rising through the ranks, he received the rank of commander in May of 2019 and currently heads the department’s Criminal Investigations Division.

Police Explorer Nathalie Venegas was honored with the department’s Bernard K. Melekian Outstanding Youth Award.

Venegas, a student at Muir High School, overcame adversity through the help of a mentor in the form of now-retired Pasadena police Sgt. Glenn Thomson, she said.

She is now preparing to study behavioral science in college while working as a cadet with the Pasadena Police Department, she said.

The gathering concluded with an auction, which included items such as ride-alongs on a police helicopter, tickets to local events, and a Palm Springs vacation.

More information on the Pasadena Police Foundation is available on the organization’s website at pasadenapolicefoundation.org.

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