DESERT HOT SPRINGS – Ken Peary mingled with his family and his new co-workers before getting sworn-in Tuesday as one of the newest members of the Desert Hot Springs Police Department.
Officer Peary and Officer Dan Bressler are now sergeants. Peary transferred from the San Bernarndio Police Department and will now supervise patrol officers. He’s already noticed a difference between communities.
“Just at lunch today,five people came up to the table just thanking the department for what they’ve done. That doesn’t happen in San Bernardino,” says Sgt. Peary.
The community is taking notice as the DHS Police Department makes major strides in combatting crime. Violent crime is down nearly a quarter since 2006. The city also pulled off the largest gang raid in Riverside County history. But dozens of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies needed to help. Now, the police department looks to stand on its own by growing.
The department now has 30 sworn officers,eight short of the recommended minimum proposed by a 2007 city commissioned staffing report. And more officers are on the way. Voters recently passed Measure A, a utility tax increase to fund four more officers. A good sign to new Detective Sergeant Dan Bressler who came from the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department for better job security.
“There’s not a lot of confidence that we aren’t gonna take huge paycuts and be asked to furlough and be asked to layoff and those kinds of things,” says Sgt. Bressler. “So this was an opportunity to kinda catch on what a department that’s going forward instead of backwards.”
Police went through 30 to 40 applicants before deciding on the men they selected. The new sergeants came right on time. The city won’t get new officers until Measure A funds kick in next month. By the time the four additional officers are sworn in, it may be the end of the year.
The city has also applied for $10 million in federal grants for more officers. They won’t know the status until September.