MHPD recruiting rookies, veterans

Get ready to see some new faces patrolling the local streets for the Morgan Hill Police Department, as the agency is looking to fill as many as seven new and existing officer positions by the end of next summer.

The slew of upcoming hires is part of MHPD’s efforts to expand its traffic enforcement and school safety programs in partnership with Morgan Hill Unified School District, and to fill vacancies in existing positions recently opened up by officers who have left the local department.

MHPD recently hired Officer Samuel Huezo as a lateral recruit from the Salinas Police Department, and rookie recruit Kira Sareli, who started training for her Police Officer Standards and Training certification Aug. 13, according to MHPD Capt. Shane Palsgrove. Sareli is expected to complete the academy in February 2019. Huezo is currently completing the MHPD field training program.

The department is also looking to “immediately” hire two more officers: one a lateral/academy graduate and the other a new recruit, Palsgrove said. These new officers will allow MHPD to fill a new traffic officer position, and to fill the vacancy left by veteran MHPD Officer Luis Espejo, who recently left for a job at San Benito County Sheriff’s Office.

The new traffic officer position—the department’s third officer devoted primarily to traffic enforcement—was created in the council-approved 2018-20 budget.

Both of these new officer positions are currently posted on the city’s “Job Opportunities” site.

Palsgrove added that in the coming months, MHPD will consider hiring two more full-time officers—one to create personnel for a new school resource officer (SRO) position and another to replace a recent retiree from the department.

The SRO will be the second such officer at MHPD. SROs are dedicated to safety at MHUSD schools, and are assigned to the district’s two high schools and two middle schools. “The officers work on the school campuses directly with students and faculty to prevent or intervene with on-campus incidents,” reads the city’s budget.

The city and MHUSD share the costs associated with the two SRO positions.

Furthermore, MHPD and consultant Teri Black and Co. are in the process of hiring a new police captain to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of veteran Capt. Jerry Neumayer. Black has spent recent months posting the MHPD captain’s job, receiving and reviewing applications and conducting interviews with the top applicants, Palsgrove said.

The open captain’s position has drawn interest from outside Morgan Hill, but three MHPD sergeants—Mario Ramirez, Carson Thomas and Carlos Guerrero—have also applied for the job, according to Palsgrove.

Palsgrove expects the department will make a hiring decision for the captain’s job by the end of this month.

MHPD will continue to staff two captains’ positions after Neumayer’s replacement is hired. The department will be authorized for 41 total sworn officer positions as of July 1, 2019, when the new traffic officer and SRO posts will be funded.

Neumayer, 46, retired June 17 after a 20-year career with MHPD.

MHPD’s annual budget—including civilian-run services such as dispatch and other support services—is about $16.4 million in the 2018-19 budget. That amount is slated to increase to about $17 million for 2019-20. About 76 percent of the city’s annual operating budget is devoted to public safety, which includes fire services.

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