Effective Monday, Aug. 1, Gustavo ‘Gus’ Flores will take over the top spot in the Escalon Police Department. The current sergeant has been tapped as the city’s next Chief of Police and will officially begin the job in August.
“I felt so much joy; just extremely happy,” Flores said of being offered the position. “I’m grateful for them (City Council) giving me the opportunity to be Chief of Police, to represent the City of Escalon.”
The decision was made to hire from within the department when recently retired chief Rob Lackey ended his tenure, and after the interview process was complete, Flores was the council’s choice.
He started his career with Escalon some 23 years ago, arriving here in 1999.
“Never thought I would be with Escalon this many years,” Flores admitted. “I thought I would start here, and then would move on.”
Escalon has often served as a training ground and Flores felt he would follow that same path, beginning here before moving on to a larger department. But one year followed another and, before he knew it, more than two decades had passed.
“There are just so many factors that led to this; one, I love the community and I love the way those in the community treat their law enforcement,” Flores said. “It was just that whole connection between (police department) employees and the citizens and it just kept going.”
Starting as a patrolman, Flores has held several positions within the department. He has been a detective, a field training officer and a sergeant. He credits “the people that trained me” with providing a solid foundation, a base from which to work and grow in the department.
As a field training officer, Flores said he was proud to have the responsibility of training the new officers, making sure they were well-versed in how to approach their work within the community.
As a sergeant, Flores said he was still able to “pass knowledge on to officers” but also dealt with some of the administrative tasks as well.
Former Chief Walt Murken was leading the department when Flores was hired in 1999. Along with learning from Murken, other fulltime chiefs that Flores worked with included Doug Dunford, Mike Borges and Rob Lackey. There were also several interim chiefs during the years Flores has been with Escalon.
A 1997 graduate with the last academy that came out of the Ray Simon Criminal Justice Center, Flores started his career with the Modesto Police Department and also worked briefly with the Stanislaus County Probation Department before coming aboard with Escalon.
“Through the years I’ve been able to go and train with other departments, such as Manteca, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department, I’ve had the opportunity to assist them with warrants and special assignments,” Flores said.
He anticipates the most difficult part of the transition from sergeant to chief will be spending more time behind a desk instead of behind the wheel of a police cruiser.
“It’s going to be difficult to not be on the streets, to sit back and watch but it also took me a little bit as a sergeant to pull away and delegate things to others,” Flores explained. “Things need to be delegated; that allows other people to grow.”
Flores said he is looking forward to overseeing the organization and being there when the officers need him for guidance and support. He will officially be sworn in as the city’s new police chief at the Monday night, Aug. 1 City Council meeting.
Then he will be busy with a couple of significant community events.
“This will be my first National Night Out as chief, first Park Fete as chief,” he said of events coming up in the days immediately following the swearing in ceremony. “Talk about jumping in and running.”
The Escalon Police Department has a dozen sworn officers, including the chief, two sergeants, three field training officers and six officers. There is already testing underway for a promotion to sergeant, which will be needed as Flores vacates that post to take on the duties of chief. Then they will need a new officer to keep the staff at its full complement. There are also support personnel for the department and the Animal Control Services in the city come under the PD jurisdiction as well.
And while he didn’t originally expect to still be here two-plus decades later, Flores is happy it worked out that way.
“I know the community, I know the needs of the community, I understand the community,” he said. “And they know the face. Communication is most important; we will keep those lines of communication open.”