Monday, December 16, 2013

A Glorious Day For A Birthday Party!

Temperatures in the mid-80s greeted visitors Sunday, December 15, 2013 the Costa Mesa Police Department, as part of the city-wide 60th Anniversary Celebration, celebrated its 60th Birthday with a community party at Police Headquarters on Fair Drive.
 (More than 3 dozen proud retirees attended the party)
Several hundred visitors enjoyed the warm weather and the festivities for five hours in the middle of the day.  I stayed for about half of that time and was very impressed with the preparations.  Food and drink was available, a raffle for helicopter rides was held in exchange for toys for children and tours of the police facilities were conducted throughout the afternoon.
 (Chiefs Dave Snowden, Roger Neth and Tom Gazsi)
Police Chief Tom Gazsi kicked off the official program and introduced several former Chiefs of Police of the department who were in attendance.  Before that part of the program, though, CMPD staffer Jeanette Chervony sang the National Anthem as the color guard presented the colors for the event.
 (Jeanette Chervony belts out the National Anthem)
Former Police Chief Roger Neth - the first officer hired and our second chief - gave us a fascinating history lesson about the CMPD.  We learned that, over the years, the CMPD has been an innovative and highly-regarded law enforcement agency.  Neth ticked off the many accomplishments - among them Community-Oriented Policing and the A.B.L.E. helicopter program, which was the benchmark after which all other municipal helicopter programs were modeled.  It was great to see Chief Neth again, and to hear those inspirational stories.
His successor, former Chief Dave Snowden - who spent more than seventeen years in that role before moving to Beverly Hills a decade ago - stepped up and expanded on some of the stories Neth told us.  He still considers himself part of the CMPD family and attends many events in our city when possible.  He rejoiced in the time he spent as our Police Chief, and bemoaned the difficult times the CMPD now faces, with the loss of A.B.L.E. and the diminished staffing levels.
Former Interim Chief Steve Staveley, a man who has led many law enforcement agencies over a more than 40 year career, was also on the stage and spoke briefly.  He was the interim Chief twice, filling in the gaps created by the departure of former Chiefs John Hensley and Chris Shawkey, neither of whom were in attendance yesterday.  Staveley held things together during some very difficult times.
Chief Gazsi spoke of the current condition of the CMPD, expressing his gratitude to the men and women of the department for their tireless efforts and spoke of the fact that they are recruiting as fast as is possible and still maintain the high standards established during the tours of the previous chiefs.  There are some members of the City Council who seem to think hiring police officers should be just like finding a gardener.  Such is the condition of the elected leadership in our city these days.
 (New recruits, eager to complete their training)
(Serving with a smile)
 (Kelly Vucinic and Valerie Sorenson keeping things rolling) 
There were many interesting displays available for the public to inspect.  There were two of our newest police cars plus the car used in the television program Adam-12.
Members of the SWAT team were present, along with many of their weapons.  After I left they gave a demonstration of tactics for the crowd at that time.
There was a helicopter on display on the helipad - a former CMPD Hughes 500D model that we sold to the Hawthorne Police Department when A.B.L.E. upgraded to the Eurocopters.  Former A.B.L.E. pilot Ryan Walker flew it here for the event and is shown chatting with retired CMPD Captain, current CMPD Chaplain and trustee of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District, Dave Brooks.  
An amusing side note - the donut truck from Sidecar Donuts on East 17th Street was at the event providing free donuts to visitors (and officers, too.)  Shown here is former councilman, current Costa Mesa Sanitary District Director and Chairman of the 60th Anniversary Celebration, Mike Scheafer, with retired legendary CMPD School Resource Officer, Jess Gilman.
The Costa Mesa Police Department has a proud, 60-year-old tradition of law enforcement innovation and excellence.  As I spoke with several of the men and women who protect and serve us today I'm convinced that Chief Gazsi and his team will continue this tradition if provided the resources.  I was very proud to be a Costa Mesan today.
(Kelly Vucinic, Captain Rob Sharpnack and Lt. Mark Manley)
(Captain Les Gogerty and Sergeant Phil Myers)
(Chief Tom Gazsi)

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Anonymous SQUAD 51 said...

Thanks to the Hawthorne PD for lending their helicopter! The spirit of cooperative law enforcement was on display here.
They allowed officer Walker, who is a CMPD officer, to fly that ship over so Costa Mesa could see a part of it's history.
I spent some time there and heard the dismay of so many that couldn't believe that after 40 years of providing that service, it's gone.
Lots of families out there today enjoying the pictures of the kids sitting in the pilots seat of that fascinating machine. What a positive experience for them!
Good job

12/16/2013 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Skeptical in Costa Mesa said...

Chief Tom makes us proud! Extremely humble and a God fearing great man. Thanks for all you do do for us and the city.

12/16/2013 08:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Tamar said...

What an uplifting celebration! It was most reassuring to see all the smiling and upbeat police officers donating a Sunday—and many hours of preparation—to benefit Costa Mesa residents.

I was also impressed with the number of retirees, including police chiefs, who still feel part of the team and took the time to come, celebrate, and share history with us.

This celebration is another example of the positive, forward-looking culture that has permeated the CMPD from its very founding and that continues to be upheld and nurtured even now in trying times.

While I understand and wish the best to the officers who have moved to cities with a more supportive City Council, I want to express my extreme gratitude to those many who have stayed and who maintain their dedication and professional demeanor no matter what. A heartfelt salute to all of you!

12/16/2013 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger kwahlf said...

I agree with Tamar, it was very uplifting.
It was a wonderful event and celebration of our CMPD and officers who are second to none.
Thank you to all of you.
Chief Tom, it was great to meet you!

12/17/2013 09:27:00 PM  

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