Incoming Glendale police chief looks forward to the challenge

As Robert Castro prepares to start Monday as Glendale’s new police chief, he has set some goals for his first 90 days — the first will be meeting with department staff, community leaders and local residents to discuss their needs and concerns.

Castro doesn’t have any immediate plans to make sweeping changes in the department. Instead, he said he wants talk to community groups and his sworn and professional staff about what they like about the agency as well as seek suggestions for improvements.

“I have to get to know the city of Glendale,” Castro said.

Castro, 48, served as the chief of the Glendora Police Department for three years before he was hired on Oct. 22 to take over as Glendale’s top cop, replacing retiring Chief Ron De Pompa.

While Castro was chief in Glendora, he said he made many changes in the police department after facing the challenge of meeting service demands with a 20% reduction in personnel.

“We had to come up with a lot of different strategies,” he said, adding that meant sometimes “challenging the status quo.”

One strategy was to hire more professional staff to relieve officers of clerical duties, so they could be more visible in the community and patrol the streets.

He has also allowed the public to view on the department’s website a running list from the dispatch center of live service and arrest calls. Displaying the list led to a 40% reduction in routine calls, he said.

“I truly believe a well-informed community is one of our best allies,” Castro said.

Being transparent, he said, is critical for the department because mistakes happen.

“I really don’t believe in trying to hide things,” he said.

Castro described his managing style as a mix of “a continuous improvement” and collaborations with the community, residents and personnel.

“I don’t believe in just going back,” he said, adding that he always looks toward the future.

While Glendale is much larger than Glendora, Castro said he doesn’t believe managing the agency is a daunting task as long as he applies successful strategies.

One of those strategies, Castro said, is building a relationship between personnel and the community.

As for exiting Police Chief Ron De Pompa, he said he will be available for Castro if he should need advice or wants to talk about his new role.

Because they’re both police chiefs in the Los Angeles region, De Pompa has gotten to work with Castro previously and described him as a “good man with strong values.”


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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