GLENDALE — Police Chief Ron De Pompa recently made several changes to his command staff — including two new area commanders — in an effort to give officers a chance to move up the ranks and experience new beats.
The changes were made not out of need for fresh perspectives, but instead "to continually expose employees to different experiences," said Capt. Kirk Palmer, who oversees patrol operations.
"I think it's more of when you got an organization that becomes static and people stay in positions for long periods of time and other individuals don't feel like they have the opportunity for other challenges, then an organization becomes stale," Palmer said.
Among the changes: West Area Commander Lt. Susan Hayn, who took a position in another unit, was replaced with Lt. Bruce Fox, who made the move from the Vice and Narcotics Unit.
Lt. Gary Montecuollo, who oversaw the Traffic Bureau, moved into the East Command position, replacing Lt. Tony Futia. Montecuollo will also oversee the downtown business district, he said.
As the West Command's new commander, Fox said he plans to work closely with residents and focus on eradicating gang activity.
"First, I want to get to know the area and get to the unique problems that are in that area and try to make it a safer place for everybody," he said.
Leadership changes have also been made among the various police bureaus, including burglary, robbery and homicide, vice, assaults and financial crimes.
The Police Department implemented an area command structure last October to establish stronger ties between beat patrol officers and the communities in their respective districts.
The command structure was also a budget solution for the Police Department, which was under pressure with other departments to cut costs.
Area command divides the city into four jurisdictions, which are overseen by a lieutenant who coordinates regular patrols and targeted enforcement to address specific community needs and trends.
In the past, new lieutenants rotated into patrol as watch commanders, Palmer said.
"Chief De Pompa has put a real emphasis on area command and the nature of that position now has changed," Palmer said. "Rather than being solely focused on watch-based sources and specific deployments, the scope of that position has broadened considerably in terms of its responsibilities and its expectations."
In the future, the Police Department will likely put new commanders into other positions to gain tenure and experience before they move into area command, Palmer said.
"It's really very much different from what we have done in the past," he said.