Stars and bars filled the Hemet City Council chambers Wednesday evening, March 11, with official swearing in of Hemet’s 18th police chief Eddie Pust, who takes over command of the 115-member police force in the 105-year-old city.
The council chamber walls were filled with dozens of police officers in blue all there to congratulate Pust who has spent most of his law enforcement career coming up in the ranks of the Hemet Police Department. Watching the swearing in by Hemet Mayor Russ Brown, a retired police officer himself, from the filled council chamber seats were Pust’s wife and daughters and many of his other family members, the members of the city council, staff and civilian friends.
Hemet police officers, police chiefs from the surrounding Inland Empire cities, the command staff from the Riverside County Sheriff’s and the California Highway Patrol, all in their blues and dress khakis, stood up around the chamber walls to witness the swearing in of Pust including former Hemet police Chief Rob Webb. The Hemet Police Honor Guard stood by to post the colors before the ceremony began at 6:30 p.m.
Pust’s long law enforcement career began after he said his mother helped sign him up in the police academy after high school. He started with the Hemet Police Department in 1999 soon after graduating from the Police Academy and was assigned to in a multi-agency narcotics task force, then in 2003 as an officer in the Hemet Crime Suppression Unit. In 2006 he was promoted to corporal and later assigned to the patrol division as a field supervisor. Pust was promoted to sergeant in the patrol division and served as a watch commander in 2011. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2014 commanding and overseeing various bureaus including the Patrol Operations Bureau, the Public Safety Dispatch Center and the Investigations Bureau. In 2018, Pust was promoted to the rank of captain and oversaw operations which included the Patrol Division, Investigations Bureau, Patrol Training Program, Special Operations Unit of the SWAT team and the Gang Task Force.
City manager Christopher Lopez said after Webb’s retirement he talked with community members, members of the Hemet Police Association, the city council leadership and many others about how they viewed the process of choosing the next chief and what they thought about Pust becoming the newest police chief for the city.
“It was after much discussion and consideration that I decided upon an inter-recruitment for our next chief (Pust) and without a doubt it was the absolute right decision,” Lopez said. “He has not only demonstrated his ability to take the reins of the police department and lead us to its next phase, but he demonstrates the action for our officers and our community. His customer service mindset, his willingness to adjust the needs for the future is clearly demonstrated day-in and day-out. He has spent more than 20 years evolving in our police department and has demonstrated pride and compassion for Hemet residents that are here tonight as well.”
After Lopez spoke of Pust’s academic and law enforcement studies Pust, his wife and three daughters came forward for the swearing in and badge pinning ceremony.
Pust thanked his family, many fellow police officers and commanders, attending the ceremony, for their help in forwarding his career.
“The train left the station a long time ago,” Pust said after praising Webb. “He left a strong foundation, and we keep moving forward.”
He also praised his training officers and thanked other officers who helped him through the years with the department. He said he was especially thankful to his family and to his two sisters who attended the ceremony.
“To the community,” Pust said, “I want to assure you that my job is to listen to your needs, make sure that I am committed to what is necessary for the needs of the community to move forward. I have a great team. I have a great department. We have a lot of pride in Hemet, and we are proud to serve you. So, thank you.”
Tony Ault can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.