SAN LUIS, Ariz. – At least three police chiefs have been in charge of the San Luis Police Department in the last year, including former Calexico police Chief Jim Neujahr, who only stayed five months in San Luis. Some say this instability has created a gap between the community and the department.
“People have to be comfortable when a police officer drives up instead of intimidated and because of what’s been happening over the years. There’s a lot of people who just don’t trust police officers or the police department.” says business owner David Lara, who considers himself a community leader against political and police corruption.
Lara is one of many residents concerned for the department. He gave us one example of instability; between May 13th and May 14th the latest police chief, Victor Figueroa, resigned then was re-instated.
“Not all the officers are bad, I would say most of the officers are honest and they are hard-working and loyal and so forth, but there’s a group that is the old guard and they have a strong hold and they’re taking control of the police department and that’s what the problem is.” says Lara.
City officials like Tadeo De La Hoya say the police department continues to serve the community with or without a police chief.
“The fact that chiefs come and go hasn’t diminished their services to the community so we’re still doing with the best we can with the resources we have.” says De La Hoya.
As far as the alleged gap between the community and the department, De La Hoya says it’s a matter of opinion.
“Policing and patrolling and our services in our city are still going on with the same quality for all of our residents and we are working I guess on improving the relationship.” says De La Hoya.