Police Chief Manuel Ortega is leaving Bell to become police chief in Placentia.
Ortega, a policeman for 21 years in Orange County until he went to Bell in 1988, will replace former Chief Harold Fischer, who retired in June. Ortega will start his new job Oct. 15.
Sgt. Bill Talbott, who has been with the Bell Police Department for 17 years, said Ortega brought stability to the department as the city struggled with financial problems. "He kind of kept us on an even keel," Talbott said.
Ortega helped start such programs in Bell as Operation Off the Wall, a graffiti cleanup program that attracted 950 volunteers in March, and another program that uses police reserves to patrol city parks on weekends.
City Manager John Bramble credited Ortega with expanding the city's drug enforcement investigation team. He also improved the department's image by encouraging officers to become active in professional organizations and by establishing more standard training programs, Bramble said. "My goal was that Manny let the outside world know that we had a professional police department and that it was full of top, qualified people," Bramble said. "From that perspective, he accomplished that goal."