When La Mesa police chief Ed Aceves was officially named to the position in October 2011, taking over for retiring chief Al Lanning, he knew he had a big job to do.
That didn't stop the native La Mesan from expressing his excitement about the opportunity, and his equal passion for the city.
The 27-year veteran of the LMPD, Aceves recently took part in a Q&A with Patch, reflecting on his first year at the helm, and looking toward the future.
La Mesa-Mount Helix Patch: What has been your best/proudest moment of being Chief for the year?
Ed Aceves: Having the opportunity to lead and provide direction for the best police department around.
Patch: What was your worst moment of your past year?
Aceves: No “worst moment” really comes to mind – there have been challenges to deal with, but nothing that could not be resolved.
Patch: What did you or the department accomplish in the past year that you might not have expected to when you took over?
Aceves: I knew coming in that there would be a lot of changes in personnel, due to numerous vacancies created by retirements and resulting promotions and changes in assignments. It took nearly six months to fill the vacancies, and in the past year we have promoted two captains, two lieutenants, and three sergeants, along with new assignments being made in detectives, traffic / motors, the narcotics task force, background investigations, and our special enforcement detail.
With all of these changes, and the loss of some very experienced employees due to retirements, I knew that there would be challenges and an inevitable learning curve. While we are still learning and adjusting to the changes, I have been impressed by how professional and capable our employees are, and how their commitment and hard work has made this transition such a positive experience.
It has been incredibly rewarding to see them excel and embrace their new responsibilities, so that we can maintain our focus of providing outstanding service to the citizens of La Mesa.
Patch: What would you like to accomplish in year two that you weren't able to achieve in year one?
Aceves: A big priority is to get to full staffing in the Police Department. We have three unfilled police officer positions, and one unfilled community service officer position, and are working hard toward filling those.
I would also like to continue to be responsive to the needs of the community. We have started some excellent programs to keep the lines of communication open with citizens but we can always improve. We will continue to hold community forums that are beneficial to citizens; we will also continue to improve the News and Information bulletin that is published weekly as well as being involved in more community outreach projects.
Patch: Is there an incident, event, or situation that stands out for you over the past year?
Aceves: A few incidents stand out. We have had to deal with the lingering effects of the officer involved shooting on Pine Street which occurred in August 2011 and involved six of our officers. Although their courageous actions no doubt protected others, an incident of this type can have long-lasting effects on the officers involved. Ensuring the wellness and healing of all the officers involved continues to be a priority.
Soon after becoming Chief of Police we had a series of violent robberies plague our business community. Our staff worked with the businesses and through some outstanding police work many of these criminals were arrested and almost all of those robberies were solved.
Unfortunately, the two recent homicides also stand out. It is the first time in our City's history that we have had two separate homicides in a two week period. The detectives have been working diligently to solve both cases and have already made an arrest in the most recent case on Amarillo.
Patch: Being Police Chief for the City of La Mesa is...
Aceves: ...an incredible honor and privilege. I have spent nearly my entire adult life as a police officer in the community that I also grew up in. To have the opportunity to lead the men and women of La Mesa PD, and to serve the City that is also my home, is humbling and gratifying. La Mesa is a wonderful community and I think our citizens deserve the best police department possible. I am proud to lead this organization and I am proud of the service that our employees provide to all of the citizens of La Mesa.