Santa Cruz police appoint Bernie Escalante as next police chief – KION546

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SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV) — City Manager Matt Huffaker announced that Acting Police Chief Bernie Escalante will assume the role permanently beginning today.

“Bernie understands the unique challenges the City of Santa Cruz and the dedicated officers of the police department face every day. I know Bernie is ready for this enormous challenge as he successfully led the department as interim chief over the past seven months. Additionally, Bernie’s extensive law enforcement experience, high ethical standards and knowledge of our community make him an excellent choice to be our next Chief of Police,” said said Huffaker.

Two internal surveys, one for police department employees and another offered citywide that received more than 400 responses contributed to Chief Escalante’s appointment.

READ MORE: Bernie Escalante Named Acting Santa Cruz Police Chief

“I am pleased that Bernie has become our next leader. He grew up in Santa Cruz and is highly respected in our community and within the police department. Our community has told us that integrity, experience and a deep understanding of our city are important characteristics. I strongly believe that Bernie is committed to and embodies all of these values ​​and will put them into practice in his new role,” said Mayor Sonja Brunner.

Chief Escalante served the city of Santa Cruz for 25 years and began his career as a duty officer in 1996.

He rose through the ranks as a patrol officer, sergeant, property crime detective and tactical team leader and lieutenant before finally becoming deputy chief in 2020.

“I am truly honored to serve the people of Santa Cruz and to lead the great men and women of the Santa Cruz Police Department. They face tremendous challenges with integrity every day, and they make me so incredibly proud,” said Climbing. “It is such a humbling opportunity to lead the police department in the city where I was born and raised. Now I can give back to the community that has given me so much. I especially want to thank my late mother and father, who raised me with high ethical standards as a young boy, and I know they are so proud.

Chief Escalante grew up in West Santa Cruz and attended Santa Cruz High School. He played football, basketball and baseball.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in social science from San Francisco State and went on to play baseball. Escalante went on to earn a Master of Science in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership from the University of San Diego. He completed the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) Law Enforcement Command College in 2014.

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