WESTMORLAND, Calif. - The City of Westmorland has a new interim chief of police, and he’s from the Sheriff’s Office.
Westmorland City Attorney Mitch Driskill explained, “The sheriff was kind enough to offer to help the city out and provide a supervisor for up to 60 days.”
Imperial County Sheriff Raymond Loera said their services started on Monday.
“We are there only on a temporary basis. Obviously when we go into a situation like this, there are some procedure that we have to follow to make sure that everything is accountable both on our side and the city’s side. He is basically maintaining a status quo to provide the necessary protection for the community,” Loera said.
Since current Westmorland Police Chief Fred Beltran Sr. plans to retire at the end of the month, this gives the city two or three months to look for a permanent chief.
“All we’re doing now is putting together the job description, the requirements we want in the new chief, to get that out there and get that advertised,” Driskill said.
The City Council has expressed they would like all current city officers to be considered for the chief’s position.
Corporal Eladio Reyes, Westmorland Police Officers Association President, said, “We all have been asked to submit a letter of interest. So, we all will be in the mix.”
City officials have also said that getting rid of the police department was never in their plans.
“There is not and has never been a plan for the sheriff to take over. I don’t see the will on the council to do that. I don’t see the will on the community to do that,” Driskill said.
But concerns linger in the minds of some officers.
“On the back of our head, we’re still kind of a little bit concerned on what the – how long this is going to be,” Reyes said.
Loera said whether they stay for a short or long time is not up to him.
“We’re here to assist. We’re here to listen to what the community has to say,” Loera explained.
He said ultimately the Westmorland community has the final word.