Years of service: Thirty-three years with the Tempe Police Department. I have served in many capacities, including detective, motorcycle officer, undercover operative and public information officer. Throughout the years, I was promoted to various supervisory/managerial commands and have had the honor and privilege of serving as Tempe’s police chief since October, 2006.
Career highlights: I’ve always believed that policing is one of America’s most notable professions. In an instant, the actions of any police officer can impact an individual for life, or a community for generations. Serving as chief of police has renewed my awareness of the nobility of policing, and how critical policing is to the quality of life of the people we serve. I remain humbled and honored by that trust and support – and remain committed to interacting directly with people in our community, listening to concerns and taking active steps to address issues quickly, directly and openly.
Important skills in your line of work: Leadership – recognizing that I must earn trust and respect every day by my actions. Being fair, listening and continuously supporting the people who work with and for you. Being direct and honest at all times, even when (perhaps especially when), there is personal, political and professional risk in doing so. Ultimately, we are all in this together.
Proudest moments: Having a blessed marriage of 32 years and raising two wonderful children; my daughter’s recent graduation from college with an education degree and my son’s recent graduation from dental school. Receiving the Dr. Martin Luther King Award from the Tempe Human Relations Commission, the NAACP President’s Award for Law Enforcement Leadership, and the League of United Latin American Citizens Community Service Award. My work with local police chiefs to establish the East Valley Chiefs Association, which evaluates operational and policy issues that impact our collective agencies and communities, and establishing the Tempe Police Crime and Intelligence Center.
Lessons learned on the job: How we interact with each other on a day-to-day basis is the foundation for great relationships and teamwork. I enjoy studying the experiences from past great American leaders. I’m particularly impressed with the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, specifically when he said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” So true! It is important to develop our future police leaders with encouragement, mentoring, education and challenges. People become personally and professionally invested when their work is meaningful and they have a direct voice in the outcomes that affect them and their community. I have found that police officers have three fundamental needs: the autonomy required to perform their jobs; mastery of the skills officers need to be good at what they do and to grow in professional competence; and nobility of purpose. I don’t forget what it was like as a young officer. I am determined to give the same level of support that I received from mentors who had a great influence on the officer I am today. When you take care of employees – through benefits, supervision, training, equipment and positive interactions – those actions will be directly transferred to the public we serve.
Why did you decide to pursue this career? As a young man, I was influenced by a neighbor, Robert Rivas, a Phoenix police officer. I went on several ride-alongs with him and was truly captivated by the experiences.
Final word: As a proud member of our Hispanic community, I remain committed to serving our communities with honor and pride!