This is a historic day,” said Hemet Chief of Police Dave Brown. “We are witnessing the first police officer hired and funded under Measure U and the promotion of three officers in support of a new Special Operations Bureau made possible by funding under Measure U.”
The Special Operations Bureau is tasked with aggressively tackling quality of life issues that have plagued the Hemet community in recent years – drugs, violent crime, gangs, prostitution and homelessness.
Measure U was passed by voters in November 2016 and provides revenues to the city of Hemet via a one cent sales tax for the next 10 years. The tax goes into effect April 1, and the City Council has committed budgeted expenditures for public safety (police and fire). Both departments were hit hard during extended recessionary periods; city cuts, reduced manpower and resources resulted in slow emergency response times and an increase in crime.
Brown plans on adding 35 more police officers in a “troop surge,” including 16 police officers, two sergeants and a lieutenant in 2017.
The City Council Chambers were filled to capacity with city council members, chamber of commerce staff and members, business leaders, community residents, and police officers for the badge-pinning ceremony.
Brown gave a description of the Hemet PD badge. “Prominently placed in the center of the badge is the official seal of the city of Hemet. This central feature serves as a reminder of the rich history of the city and the Hemet Police Department – both established in 1910. The seal is draped on both sides by the flags of the State of California and the United States of America representing the people and constitutions every officer swears to support and defend. The lake and mountains depict the natural beauty of the valley and the rising sun reminds us of our bright future.
Three ribbons adorn the badge and make it unique to the Hemet Police Department and the officer who wears it, bearing the officer’s rank and personal identification number.
Finally, the badge is cast in the shape of a centurion shield as a symbol of personal protection and public trust. The edge of the shield is trimmed in birch rods bound together with leather straps. These were carried by ancient Roman guards as a symbol of “strength through unity.”
According to state law, the badge is issued and authorized by the chief of police and is worn over the heart as a constant reminder of the oath officers take and the enormous responsibility that comes with it.
“This is important to the growth and future of our community,” said Hemet Mayor Linda Krupa, “The Hemet PD is a close-knit family and they need the community’s support, to know that we have their back. When you see them, wave, honk, say ‘I love you.’”
City Council members Michael Perciful and Karlee Meyer also expressed their thanks.
Brown first called up new hire Officer Travis Hamby for the Oath of Office. He was pinned by his father David and wife Veronica. Hamby grew up in Encinitas and started his law enforcement career as an Explorer Scout. He holds a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice from Southwest Texas State University. Hamby has 10 years’ experience with the San Diego Police Department.
“I have worked the gang areas in San Diego – Pacific Beach, Mission District,” said Hamby, “and I hope to put that experience to use here in Hemet. This is a nice, mature community with growth opportunities and I want to do my little part to bring it back to the way it was. There is a lot of potential for growth here.”
Hamby also hopes to contribute in the future in training, hiring and investigations.
Cpl. Bryan Cunningham was joined by his wife Melissa and son Thomas as daughter Ava pinned the badge to his uniform. Cunningham, a four-year Marine Corps veteran, served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served two years with the Riverside Sheriff’s Department before transferring to Hemet PD in 2012. He was hired under the “Vets to Cops” grant funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. Cunningham has served as a patrol officer and a detective on the Crime Suppression Unit and has been awarded the Police Cross. He will now serve as field supervisor in the Patrol Division.
Gabriel Gomez was promoted to police sergeant and will serve as watch commander in the Patrol Division. Gomez was pinned by his father Gabriel and step-father Tony. Gomez has been with Hemet PD since January 2002. He “spent six years adjusting the insurance rates of wayward Hemet drivers,” quipped Brown. Gomez was promoted to corporal in 2012 and has served as acting sergeant. In 2014 he was assigned to the Detective Bureau. Gomez has also been a vital member of the Joint Hemet/Murrieta Regional SWAT team.
Police Sgt. Glen Brock was promoted to lieutenant and will serve as commander of the Support Services Division. He was joined by his wife Laura and daughters Katelyn and Madelyn. Brock served six years with the Los Angeles Police Department and joined Hemet PD in 2006 where he has served as a patrol officer, school resource officer, detective on the Crime Suppression Unit, and team leader on the Crisis Negotiation Team.
“I’m excited,” said Brock, “I work here. I live here and I see the quality of life issues that our community faces every day. I appreciate the community’s support and recognition for the hard work and good job that I try to do.”
“The business community has long recognized the need for additional officers and the Hemet San Jacinto Valley Chamber of Commerce has worked hard to get Measure E and Measure U on the ballot,” said Michael Carle, Chairman of the Board for the HSJVC. “Safety is a top priority for our businesses and we want our police department to know we are partners with them in that mission.”
“We’re only as good as the service we provide to our community,” said Brown, “And thanks to the community’s passage of Measure U we will be able to improve that level of service with the resources we need to do our jobs with excellence.”