Four new officers sworn in

Four new officers joined the Costa Mesa Police Department Monday morning in a ceremony that included the naming of the force's newest captain.

Officers Curtis Hazell, Arnold Alegado, Ryan Novikoff and Jonathan Tripp were sworn in as beaming parents and spouses watched.

"We will have high expectations of all of them," police Chief Tom Gazsi said. "We know they are up to the challenge."

The four are the first hires since 2008, and community members can expect to see them patrolling the streets in about two weeks.

"This will be the beginning of the next generation of Costa Mesa police officers," Gazsi said.

Hazell comes from the Orange County Sheriff's Department, where he worked as a deputy. Alegado formerly worked as a junior high school teacher at a private school in Long Beach. Tripp and Novikoff came from Fullerton College Police Academy, where they received resounding endorsements from former Costa Mesa Interim Chief Dennis Kies.

Hazell, Alegado and Tripp hope to one day work the gang detail, while Novikoff hopes to work as a K-9 officer.

Mayor Jim Righeimer said the new officers are joining an organization that strives to be one of the best in the state.

"This is a fine department," Righeimer said. "And it's got a history behind it."

Hazell echoed his sentiments.

"I'm excited to be here," he said after the ceremony. "It's a good city, a good department. Everybody's been welcoming."

Also part of the ceremony was the promotion of Capt. Rob Sharpnack, a 20-year veteran with a "full breadth of experience," in Gazsi's words. Sharpnack exhibited interpersonal and intellectual skills, Gazsi told a crowd of 70 or so community members.

Sharpnack's wife, daughter and son, sporting a mini SWAT vest, joined the new captain in front of police personnel, city employees and council members in the standing-room-only ceremony at the Police Department.

The promotion announcement was one of many expected in the near future, as about half of the department's executive staff is expected to be replaced in the upcoming weeks, Gazsi said.

Three lieutenant positions will be left open as a result of retirements and a promotion. The lieutenant-promotion process will begin this week.

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