It has been overwhelming “in a good way,” emphasized South Pasadena’s new police chief Joe Ortiz, when asked what it has been like since taking over as South Pasadena’s police chief about a month ago.
“Very welcoming, a lot of love from the residents.” said Ortiz, “The people have been just phenomenal.”
Ortiz was officially welcomed to the city Monday night during a public ceremonial oath of office inside a packed South Pasadena Council Chambers.
“The demographics, the city, the vision that the city manager,” he said were key reasons drawing Ortiz to seek the job.
He said the department is short staffed by two people and is in the process of recruiting officers and dispatchers.
Another challenge facing the chief will be watching the department’s bottom line. “We’re very fiscally responsible with the budget,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz, who was appointed the city’s chief of police on April 1, joins the department after holding the same position in Sierra Madre.
He replaces Art Miller, who left last August to become the police chief in Peoria, Arizona. Brian Solinsky served as interim police chief for the City of South Pasadena prior to the arrival of Ortiz, and will remain as a captain for the department.
Ortiz launched his law enforcement career with the Glendora Police Department, where he was promoted to corporal and also assigned as a detective. In 2010, he joined the police department at Sierra Madre as a patrol sergeant. Four years later he became a captain and chief in 2016.
“I’d like to welcome Chief Ortiz to the South Pasadena community,” said South Pasadena Mayor Marina Khubesrian in a statement. “His reputation in Sierra Madre is excellent, and I have full confidence that he will bring the same high level of service and dedication to our residents.”
Ortiz, who was praised for his work by South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, plans to continue community policing, a strategy that focuses on building ties and working closely with members of the community. “The police department and the residents are very engaged,” said Ortiz. “We want to make sure we take it to the next step, another level. The purpose of community policing is to create equity in our residents to build a certain level of trust, continue to be transparent and building our relationship with them.”
Ortiz says he looks forward to working with the South Pasadena community, police officers city staff, and leadership teams. “I’m very blessed, and I’m supposed to be here.”
Adding quickly, “That’s why I’m here.”