By Kristin Kjaero
April 7, 2015 (La Mesa) -- It was a perfect spring day in La Mesa for the outdoor swearing in of the new Police Chief, Walt Vasquez (photo, left), joined by his family (photo, below right). The charisma and popularity he brings with him was clear to see in the size and responsiveness of the crowd.
Vasquez began his career in law enforcement in 1986 with the San Diego Police Department, where he rose through the ranks to captain, most recently overseeing SDPD's SWAT team, Canine Unit, communications, property room, information services, and the chief's community advisory boards.
Not surprisingly given this background, his speech today expressed the values he places on public service, teamwork, and community policing.
Below and in video, we give you Chief Vasquez's speech in full.
I truly want to thank everyone for being here. Thank you to my family and my friends for your tremendous support throughout my career, and during the chief of police selection process. Thank you to the Mayor, the Vice Mayor, the La Mesa City Council, the City Manager and the Assistant City Manager, for having the confidence in me and selecting me as your Chief.
I'm humbled, I'm honored, and I'm extremely fortunate to be selected to be the Chief of Police for the City of La Mesa. Professionally this is one of the finest moments of my career, but trust me, I did not reach this goal on my own. Throughout my 28+ years in the law enforcement profession, many public safety leaders and colleagues, many of who are here today, have mentored and supported me. That support helped me achieve my goals and certainly played a huge part in my selection as the Chief in La Mesa.
I want to thank the San Diego Police Department family and its leaders, both past and present, for their steadfast support, their guidance, their numerous opportunities they gave me during my career as a San Diego Police Officer.
I also want to thank the Chief of Police, Ed Aceves, for his leadership, his thirty plus years of service to the City of La Mesa, and his contribution - and I mean his tremendous contribution - to the law enforcement community within San Diego County. Ed, you will be missed.
Now it's time for a new chapter of my law enforcement career. Being a public servant is an awesome honor and privilege that holds a tremendous responsibility. Those who swore an oath to protect and serve must accept, internalize and understand that responsibility. The public who we serve every second of every day, expects us to serve professionally and fairly, and they should.
My new law enforcement family, the men and women of the La Mesa Police Department, have a well-earned reputation as an outstanding Police Department. We, as a dedicated team of professionals, both sworn and professional civilians, will continue to build upon that reputation and enhance it over the next several years. We, as the La Mesa Police Department, will do so with an unwavering commitment to partner with the communities we serve, practicing community policing and problem solving, and treating citizens fairly and with respect. We will hold each other accountable for our actions, and we will always strive to enhance and improve our professionalism.
Many of you already know that I am an East County resident, and that I graduated from Helix High School. I'm very proud of that. I also played Pony League and the La Mesa Pony fields, and watched my children perform their dance routines during Christmas in the Village during the holiday season.
My strong personal connection and tremendous respect for the Jewel of the Hills is absolute. I can guarantee you 100% commitment, professionalism and dedication to the citizens of La Mesa, the men and women of the La Mesa Police Department, the City of La Mesa team members, and our elected officials.
I'm honored to be a public servant for the City of La Mesa, and I can't wait to get started. Thank you so much for being here today. I am so honored.
Photo: Mayor Mark Araposthis with Chief Vasquez.