New department celebrates July 1 launch with drive-thru parade
A fleet of new Menifee police cars turned on their sirens and began their formational drive-thru parade on the evening of June 30, announcing their arrival as Menifee’s new police department starting at midnight that night, July 1.
Before they headed out into various neighborhoods in Menifee, they held a private event, which included a swearing-in ceremony.
“I feel like we are at a breaking point, or at least a tipping point in our history,” police Chief Pat Walsh of the Menifee Police Department, said. “My stance is that we will tip in America, but only when the police and the community understand each other and afford each other grace. If we do this, we will tip in the right direction.”
Menifee’s police department first started as an idea, and with the help of many individuals became a real reality.
As Mayor Bill Zimmerman, the Menifee council and the district attorney of Riverside County sat behind him, Walsh continued his speech.
“To the community of Menifee, we are your police department,” Walsh said. “We live here, we shop here, our kids go to school here… We are intermittently connected to this city.
“Our mission statement is, we deliver an experience where people feel unified, engaged and safe. We look at this mission statement not only as how we will treat you, but how we will treat ourselves. Our values are together. We will see one another, we will know one another, and we will empower one another,” he said.
The men and women of the first inaugural police department stood on each side of the stage as Walsh continued.
“We have a job to do, and the men and women of the Menifee Police Department are good at their job,” Walsh said. “To the men and women of the Menifee Police Department, I love you.”
Following this emotional statement, he grew quiet as he paused, and cheers of applause erupted to help him continue.
“Every day I pray for you,” he said. “My prayer is that you are safe physically, mentally and spiritually. You are honorable men and women… You are serving in the most noble profession on earth.”
He asked that they don’t let anti-police media get to them.
“They thrive on drama, and money they make peddling hate,” Walsh said. “Do not listen to the anti-police politicians; they live for votes and clicks on Twitter. Do not listen to the anger, hate… Instead listen to the victims, the witnesses, the community member living in fear, the drug addict crying out for help.
“Fight that fight. Be the change, be the light, be the steady quiet force that makes a difference. Be a difference for everyone you come in contact with. I know you, and I know that you have greatness within you.
“Greatness that this world needs especially now at this time. Remember that you swore an oath to the Constitution of the United States of America. Always remember and let that be your guide,” he said.
District attorney Mike Hestrin conducted the ceremonial swearing-in of the inaugural Menifee Police Department.
“I want to start by thanking the men and women of the Menifee police department for stepping forward… They stepped forward to patrol this city, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” Hestrin said. “I want them to know that Riverside County will step forward to thank you. “This place, this county, this town, we appreciate our law enforcement officers.”
During the ceremony that night, a plaque was presented to Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco and Capt. Matthew Sims, who was Menifee’s police captain and is from Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, thanking them for their many years of service. Bill Young, president of the sheriff’s association accepted the award on behalf of Bianco during the event.
“Tonight starts a legacy of the Menifee police department,” Walsh said. “You are that legacy… You stand poised to make history tonight. Make us proud.”
After the officers were sworn-in, and the ceremony concluded, the Menifee Police Department, along with Mayor Bill Zimmerman and others got in the new police SUVs and readied themselves to go throughout neighborhoods in Menifee on a map they’d posted for the community to see earlier that day.
Quail Valley Market, 23980 Newport Drive, in Menifee was the first stop on Parade Route 1, from 7:30-7:40 p.m. Police would drive through before heading onto their next two stops in the first route.
Menifee locals stood near the market, holding American flags, ready to show their support.
Brandi Tubbs and her family had first heard of the drive-thru through the community of Menifee. They stood next to Ricky Estrada, a Menifee local who is running for Mayor in the next election.
“We wanted to show our love for law and order, we love protecting our cities so we’re all for that here,” Estrada said.
He held the American flag he had brought out for police to see as they came winding down Goetz Road.
Mayor Bill Zimmerman and officers waived from the cars as they drove by, their sirens wailing.
The next stop on Parade Route 1 was La Ladera Park, 29629 La Ladera Road, in Menifee, and many people came out to this location.
At first, most of the crowd had lined up and down La Ladera Road, but as the officers pulled in with their sirens, they were on the other side of the park at Country Fair Drive, so the crowd came to them.
The mayor and several officers talked and joked with the crowd, taking pictures with them. One of the motorcycle officers let people sit on his bike to take photos, while another officer opened up the driver’s side of one of the police units for children to get their photos taken and to see what it was like.
One family came out with their dog Yoda.
“I came out just to support,” Menifee resident Felicia Petersen, said. “Everybody’s been so mean and not respectful, so the least we can do is kind of welcome. We just wanted a show of support for the community to come out.”
A family of four were waiting as well, holding blue and black American flags as well as small American flags to wave.
“I’m a deputy for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, 13 years,” Emilio Lopez said. “Just coming out here, supporting Menifee PD, looking forward to great things from the police department. I know we’ll have a better community base with the local PD versus the Riverside sheriff’s department.
“It’s been a great community too,” Lopez said. “We moved here in 2018, and it’s a small community but such a great, wholesome community for the kids.”
The Menifee Police Department hopes to do something at a later date for the community, with a big ceremony and open house with a ribbon cutting, according to Gonzalez.
Walsh asked that people support and pray for them.
“Give us the benefit of the doubt,” Walsh said. “As your police chief I commit to you that the Menifee Police Department will be transparent and honest with you, always.”
Lexington Howe can be reached by email at email@example.com.