The Hemet City Council, flanked by almost a dozen Hemet police officers and Murrieta police Chief Sean Hadden, watched as Rob Webb with 28 years of police service was officially sworn as Hemet’s newest police chief Tuesday, Jan. 23.
Webb was hired in 1991 from the San Diego Harbor Police Department and served in the Hemet Police Department in all of the Hemet Police Department divisions. He was promoted in 2014 to deputy chief and managed the operations, services and investigations bureaus of the department.
Webb succeeds police Chief Dave Brown in becoming the 14th police of chief in the city of Hemet. Brown has been the city’s police chief since 2014; however, he left the department, Dec. 17, is now running as a candidate for Riverside County sheriff.
Following the swearing-in ceremony at Hemet City Hall, Webb said he was happy to report that the goal of adding 24 new police officers, two sergeants, a lieutenant and four new investigators by 2018, as outlined in the proposed Measure U Community and police staffing plan is ahead of schedule with only three positions left to be filled. He said in December the Hemet Police Department staffing was up to a level where it can “make a difference.”
Hemet voters in November 2016 approved Measure U, a one cent sales tax that was to be used strictly for the city’s formerly undermanned police, fire and emergency services. Chief Brown, fire Chief Scott Brown created the plan with city staff. The city council gave its approval and granted almost $2 million in reserve funding to begin the hiring process before any taxes were collected. The department was forced to lay off dozens of police officers due to the Great Recession. The first sales taxes from Measure U have been collected and in part, the revenue will be used to pay back the reserve fund.
Since many new officers have joined the department in the past year, there is a reported a 25 percent decrease in the city’s crime rate.
Webb said the remaining three positions “may be filled in the next few weeks… We have many applicants for the positions and will be interviewing several of them this week. They’re from all over San Diego, the sheriff’s department. We are competitive …” Helping with the Hemet Police Department’s recruiting effort is a signing bonus of up to $15,000 for lateral officers approved by the council.
Still to be fulfilled with Measure U funds in 2019-2020, according to the Community Safety and Police Staffing Plan, is the additions of 10 more police officers the will provide an enhanced patrol force to heavily patrol the neighborhoods, business and medical districts to maintain improvements and safety achieved in 2017 and 2018. The 2019-2020 police staffing plan would achieve what has been determined to be the minimum staffing level of 1.2 officers per 1,000 residents. Overseeing the expenditure is the Measure U Citizen Oversight Committee which reports directly to the city council.