Bejarano: “I missed being a cop”
David Bejarano has become the first Latino chief of the Chula Vista Police Deparment. He’s the third police chief here in 50 years.
“I feel a lot of pride,” said in Spanish by Bejarano, who from 1999 to 2003 was the City of San Diego’s first Latino police chief.
On Wednesday, he accepted the job at a press conference in front of city hall, and announced he has ended his candidacy for county sheriff. He said he will partially reimbursed donations that totaled $100,402, an amount that exceeds any of the other candidates. Recently, Bejarano received some criticism for applying for Chula Vista police’s top job while running a campaign for county sheriff.
“I missed being a cop,” Bejarano said. “I couldn’t pass on this opportunity. I feel like a rookie. When I was informed I was selected, I had the same feeling, the same passion I felt when I first became a cop more than 30 years ago.”
He said that his goal is to make Chula Vista one of the safest cities in the nation.
Among the major issues facing the city is drug crime crossing the border from Mexico into Chula Vista, which has seen several violent incidents recently presumably involving Mexican cartels.
Bejarano said he will work with his Tijuana and Baja California counterparts to make this a safer region. As San Diego police chief, he was known for the relationships he created with authorities across the border.
Asked about if the police department will cooperate with federal immigration officers and the Border Patrol, Bejarano said that the police role is to make sure that Chula Vista is a safe city.
“We will cooperate only when it involves violent crime. Immigration status is a federal matter.”
After retiring from the San Diego Police Department, Bejarano, 52, was appointed as U.S. Marshal for San Diego and Imperial counties. He’s been running a private security company for the past few years. In November he was elected to the Chula Vista Elementary School District governing board.
City Manager Jim Sandoval said that Bejarano was a perfect fit for Chula Vista, having lived in the area for many years.
“I think he’ll do a great job,” Sandoval said. “It’s going to be a great partnership.”
Sandoval said that Bejarano being Latino and fluent in Spanish will reflect Chula Vista, which has a Latino majority.
“David gets along with all groups of people, but he especially will be able to communicate very well with the Latino community,” Sandoval said. “We’re very fortunate to have him here.”
Mayor Cheryl Cox said that she could only ask Bejarano for one thing: “Help keep our community safe.”
Frank Magor, president of the Chula Vista Police Officers Association, said that Bejarano is a “very people-oriented person.”
Magor said that he’ll meet with him to talk about “lingering issues” important to the department. “I’m sure he’ll be able to resolve them,” he said.
Bejarano said he will start his new job in late August. He comes to Chula Vista while the city faces budget cuts, but that’s not going to be a barrier for him to try to improve the image of the police department, he said.
“It’s going to be a team effort,” he said. “I’m going to make sure the police department is community-friendly. I’m going to be out in meetings in the community every day. We truly want to engage the community. I want to build community partnerships.”