Sources: Three finalists for Costa Mesa police chief [Corrected]

COSTA MESA — Three Southern California law enforcement officials are finalists to become Costa Mesa's next police chief, three police sources with knowledge of the hiring process said.

Newport Beach Capt. Tom Gazsi, Anaheim Deputy Chief Craig Hunter and Carlsbad Capt. Neil Gallucci are the finalists, the sources said.

The Daily Pilot agreed not to identify the sources, but each is in the Costa Mesa Police Department.

Chief Executive Tom Hatch is expected to select a new chief within two weeks, city spokesman William Lobdell said.

Lobdell said he was unable to confirm the candidates' names or comment on the names being circulated.

The Pilot contacted the candidates, and each said he was unable to discuss whether he was a candidate.

FOR THE RECORD:The July 7 article “Sources: Three finalists for Costa Mesa police chief” should have said each candidate was unable to discuss their candidacy.


Capt. Tom Gazsi

A 32-year veteran of the Newport Beach Police Department, Gazsi joined as a cadet in 1979 and later became a police officer in 1985, according to the department's website.

Gazsi has a bachelor's degree in public policy and management from USC. He has served as an NBPD captain since 2007, and has been active in the department's chaplain program.

Gazsi saw morale among NBPD officers sink during the mid-2000s. A suit was recently filed against the department that claimed select members were being unfairly promoted. In 2009, former Chief John Klein was ousted after a vote of no confidence from the police management union.

Some point to Gazsi's tenure during Newport police's tumultuous period as a quality he possesses that could help bring peace to Costa Mesa's also troubled police department, which has had three interim chiefs since last November.

One of those interim chiefs stepped down after about six months; then his predecessor resigned in protest of the city's planned budget cuts.


Deputy Chief Craig Hunter

Anaheim Police Department's Hunter earned a bachelor's degree in leadership from Bellevue University and a master's in criminal justice from Chapman University, according to his online résumé.

He also implemented an undercover tagger program and worked career criminal, street and criminal narcotics details as a detective. During his career, he also worked robbery, internal affairs, patrol and gang detail as a sergeant.

His résumé stated that he reduced overtime by 50% while serving in Anaheim.

Hunter ran for Orange County sheriff in 2010, but lost to incumbentSandra Hutchens.

During his 2010 campaign, the Orange County Register endorsed Hunter, citing his rejection of union money and the respect he has from the larger law-enforcement community. According to a Register article, he is also a strong 2nd Amendment gun rights advocate.


Capt. Neil Gallucci

Less information was immediately available about Gallucci.

Gallucci, a member of the Carlsbad Police Department in San Diego County, has served as a training officer for the California Peace Officers' Assn.

He was also highlighted on the city of Carlsbad's website for his work with police canine Vito, whom Gallucci worked with in making several felony arrests between January 1995 and October 2000.

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