FAIRFIELD — When Solano College replaced its police chief in August, college leaders claimed someone with experience would replace him and make significant changes.
That man was retired Vacaville police Lt. Ed Goldberg, who was quickly named interim chief after the dismissal of former Chief Steve Dawson.
Jowel Laguerre, president and superintendent of the college, said at the time that the decision was his and he was looking to make changes after evaluating the service of the department. That change in leadership has now given way to upgrades in equipment, procedures and the hiring of new officers.
Solano College trustees were introduced at Wednesday’s board meeting to Gary Anderson, a 30-year veteran who retired from the Vacaville Police Department, and Duane Walker, another law enforcement veteran who spent 20 years with the Vallejo department. John Adams, who also works at the College of Marin, was hired Friday.
For Laguerre, things are happening just as he hoped they would.
“Bringing Chief Goldberg in, he promised to shake the trees and bring in someone we would be proud of. We envisioned something positive. We had really high hopes,” Laguerre said. “We knew we would see some improvement.”
Coming back to the job wasn’t on Anderson’s mind after retiring as a lieutenant, until he was contacted by Goldberg. Having worked together in Vacaville, Anderson said knowing Goldberg and how he does business was the draw.
“I wasn’t looking for a job. If it wasn’t Ed and I didn’t know him, I wouldn’t have applied,” Anderson said. “In the first two weeks I’ve been here, he’s moving the professionalism of this department up the ladder.”
Goldberg said he was enjoying his retirement since 2010 when he was approached by Yulian Ligioso, vice president of finance and administration. He knew there would be challenges in taking the job, but said he saw potential.
He’s enjoying himself so much, Goldberg said he would like to return as an officer when his allotted hours for working after retirement end in the next couple of months.
“I knew there were good people here after meeting (Ligioso),” Goldberg said. “Honestly I didn’t envision getting back in a uniform.”
When he arrived, Goldberg said he found inferior equipment and a lack of organization. He’s currently working on protocols for handling certain incidents, something that hadn’t been completed in the past. He quickly instituted monthly meetings where training will take place.
Equipment also needed upgrading, Goldberg said, starting with badges. Part-time and full-time officers were wearing different badges, which he said added confusion. Community service officers got larger, more official badges as well. He also equipped officers with small cameras that clip to the uniform, to record certain service calls.
Goldberg said he used a connection to get a deal on new radios for each officer, and two vehicles were purchased to patrol the satellite campuses. He’s also looking into replacing the large, outdated phones each officer is issued with phones with cameras to log evidence.
When he arrived, the force was made up of two full-time officers, one of which is out on injury leave. There were also four part-time officers and two community service officers. The college is currently in the hiring process. Goldberg said there will eventually be four full-time officers, eight part-time officers and four community service officers.
Laguerre said the money used for the hiring came from money budgeted for staffing. He said other funds were shifted around and reorganized from past use.
“We were not using our resources the best way possible. I just know we needed better,” he said. “You haven’t seen the whole thing yet.”
For Joe Ramos, the full-time officer who has been with the department for 12 years, the change has been refreshing.
“We’re coming out of the dark ages,” he said.
Ramos said the upgrades, hires and organization have lifted his moral and gives the department more credibility.
“The other agencies we work with will respect us more,” he said. “This badge says police, not security.”
Laguerre said another interim chief would likely be hired after Goldberg’s time runs out.
“We are exploring what else to do,” he said. “We are working on coverage first and the structure later.”
Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.