Robert Castro, who was introduced this week as the new chief of the Glendale Police Department, may not be a household name yet among local residents, but he's already receiving plenty of requests for assistance.
Residents Mirna Stanley and Civil Service Commissioner Art Devine are hoping Castro, who is currently chief of the Glendora Police Department, will address traffic safety issues and the recent pedestrian-involved fatalities to “stop the carnage.”
Berdj Karapetian, chairman of the Glendale chapter of the Armenian National Committee of America, wants to see more top-level positions diversified in the police department so they reflect the larger community.
City Manager Scott Ochoa said he is confident Castro will meet the interests of the city's varying demands because of his well-roundedness, ability to solve problems and focus on providing exceptional customer service.
Ochoa announced Castro's appointment on Tuesday following a nationwide search to replace outgoing Police Chief Ron De Pompa, who retired in February. City officials rehired De Pompa on an hourly basis as they searched for his replacement.
Castro, 48, is expected to start working in Glendale on Dec. 16.
Det. Jason Ross, president of the Glendale Police Officers' Assn., said officers were “excited and supportive” of Ochoa's decision following the exhaustive search.
“Chief Castro's reputation precedes him and that [leads] us to believe he will be as successful here as he was during his career in Glendora,” he said.
Castro was hired by the Glendora Police Department as an officer in 1986, rose through the ranks and became police chief in January 2011.
Castro was one of six candidates who took part in interviews with three panels made up of city personnel, union representatives, police officials and community members.
Each council member provided an executive search firm and city officials with the name of a community member they believed would best represent various groups in the city, Ochoa said. From there, city officials and the search firm selected additional members from the community.
The community panel was made up of nine people who represented various neighborhoods, a clergy group, educational and business interests and Korean, Latino and Armenian groups in Glendale, he said.
Alex Woo, president of the Korea-Glendale Sister City Assn., was on the community panel and said he was impressed by Castro's experience and forward thinking. Woo added that Castro was approachable and appeared to be someone who would be willing to have a dialogue with officers.
“We definitely have a chief we would be proud of,” Woo said.
Of the top three candidates, Ochoa said Castro stood out because of his efficiency in running the smaller Glendora department.
“You never quite know what the job is until you do what the job is,” Ochoa said.
To effectively run the small department, Castro had to become knowledgeable about everything from personnel to finance issues, Ochoa said.
In meeting that goal, Castro became a strong believer of working together with neighboring police agencies, which has helped to reduce costs, Ochoa added.
“You have to be a generalist to a degree to accomplish all of it,” Ochoa said.
Castro's hard work and dedication to Glendora was not lost on his colleagues.
“I love working for him,” said Det. Tim Crawford, who is president of the Glendora Police Officers' Assn.
As police chief, Crawford said Castro equipped officers with plenty of tools, such as a new radio system, to make their jobs easier and more efficient.
Glendora Mayor Joseph Santoro said Castro's departure is bittersweet because he is a “wonderful” police chief.
“Our loss is Glendale's gain,” he added.