HUNTINGTON PARK : New Police Chief Gets 5-Year Contract

The Police Department--mired in controversy for the past year--has a new chief.

Randy Narramore, a police chief for seven years in a small Central California city, was named last week to head the department in Huntington Park.

The City Council voted unanimously to hire Narramore on a five-year contract with an annual salary of $95,340. The 46-year-old chief, who has charmed residents and officials with his informality and insistence on being called by his first name, will begin work April 1.

"The strongest asset an organization has is the people that work there," said Narramore, who replaces interim Chief Bill Reed. "I hold officers to a high standard of professionalism at all ranks. I demand that the job gets done and that it gets done well."

The 65-member Police Department has been marred by allegations of misconduct and distracted by internal investigations.

The city hired Reed, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department captain, to investigate former members of the Crime Impact Team, an elite force created in 1990 to handle drug and gang investigations and other special assignments.

During his tenure, Reed fired two officers for overtime fraud, falsifying police reports and other misconduct. At least four other officers remain under investigation.

Mayor Ric Loya said the new chief will face the challenge of improving the image of the department while overseeing the investigation of some officers.

Forty-five candidates applied from throughout the state to replace Chief Frank Sullivan, who resigned in May amid allegations of sexual harassment, favoritism and discrimination. Sullivan, who was with the department for 27 years, was appointed chief in August, 1992.

A Biola University undergraduate and native of Fullerton, Narramore has been in law enforcement for 25 years. He started as a patrol officer at the El Cajon Police Department, rising to lieutenant. He served as chief of detectives before becoming chief of police in Ridgecrest, a small Kern County town, in 1988. He also had a stint as interim city administrator.

The transition from working on a police force of 125 in El Cajon to about 30 in Ridgecrest made him sensitive to community concerns, he said.

"I'm quite proud (Ridgecrest) is a very safe community to live in. We have a large volunteer base that we've used quite well" for community policing and graffiti prevention, said Narramore, who plans on moving into Huntington Park.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Huntington Park residents would love to help with the Police Department or City Hall," he said.

Straying from the traditional method of having the council and staff choose a police chief, Councilwoman Rosario Marin formed a selection committee that included three members of the community of 58,000 to interview candidates for the chief's position.

"He is someone I would look forward to introducing to parents and kids in the community," said committee member and Gage Middle School Principal Joe Caldera, who said Narramore was his first choice. Sgt. Mike Leinen, who represented the Huntington Park Police Officers Assn. on the panel, said the Police Department was happy with the council's decision.

"We hope he is impartial and will provide fair treatment," he said. "In other words, we hope there's no favoritism that existed in the past here," he said.

"We only know him by his reputation and he's aware of what he's walking into."

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