After losing longtime Officer Richard Francis to the Ripon Police Department earlier this summer, Escalon Police officials knew they needed to look for a replacement. New chief Mike Borges said the department is actively seeking one, and possibly two, new officers.
Interviews were conducted this past week for the vacancy created when Officer Francis left and Borges said he is definitely pleased with how the search is progressing.
“Right now the whole panel is interviewing seven candidates,” Borges said on Thursday, when the officer hopefuls were in town.
The chief said the goal was to have at least four of them make it through that first interview panel and more than that actually did, so that increases the likelihood that a new officer for the department will be found among those candidates. Still to come are one-on-one interviews with Borges, in addition to a background check, psychological testing and a physical for the candidates that make it through to the final selection stage.
Among those on the interview panel were city representative Tammy Alcantor, police department representative and Field Training Officer Gus Flores and a sergeant from the Ceres Police Department.
“The fact that they are impressing the panel is a very good sign,” added Borges.
While that recruitment process is under way, Borges said the department is also waiting for word on a grant application they filed, which would provide funding for hiring another officer.
The department applied for a COPS, Community Oriented Policing Services, grant to help finance the additional officer.
“I won’t know about that (grant) until probably late September, early October,” Borges said.
The department is working currently with six officers, one sergeant and the chief, and ideally would like eight officers on the streets. Borges said the department also may be able to utilize budget funds for a community services officer position to assist with evidence handling, non-emergency calls, taking informational reports, all of which would allow the patrol officers to be more proactive on their beats.
“That would be the best of both worlds for us,” noted Borges.
Along with himself as the chief, Borges said the department is staffed with Sgt. Milt Medeiros and officers Gus Flores, Anthony Hardgraves, Robert Lackey, Dave Armendariz, Matt Price and K.J. Vandagriff. Police Services Manager Dorothy Vandagriff is also on the staff and Borges said the department has been bolstered by its active reserve corps.
That group includes Terry Pinheiro, Richard Tatum, Joe Rosa, Frank LeSage, Scott Bynum, Zachary Pelham, Sara Cardoso, Angela Martinez, Rodney Small, Paul Tualla and Emmanuel Becerra. They often fill in on shifts and handle special events coverage, everything from Friday night football games to city parades.
“We are very fortunate to have that many reserves and have them be as active as they are,” said Borges.
The department’s Explorer unit also has four active members who also assist officers on a regular basis and those include Mallory Schulz, Matt Strand, Alec Nerland and Cassidy Ley-Han.
Escalon’s group of citizen volunteers, who can help with special event details, includes Jim Davis, John and Dee Mostowski, Rebecca Williams and Ed Dwyer.
Borges, who just took over as Escalon’s police chief in mid-July, said he is anxious to bring new officers on board to meet the service needs of the community.
“If everything went without a hitch, late October or early November we could have a new officer brought on board,” he said.