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DOWNEY - In an emotional ceremony filled with hugs, laughs and photographs, Downey Police Capt. Carl Charles became Downey's 10th chief of police, sworn-in on Wednesday before an audience of family, friends, colleagues, and city officials.
"I'm very humbled by this moment," said Charles shortly after taking the oath of office. "I want to thank the mayor, the city council, and Mr. Gilbert Livas for allowing me to lead one of the finest law enforcement agencies in the country.
"For that I'm eternally grateful," he said.
Charles, a 22-year veteran of the Downey Police Department, replaces Rick Esteves, who announced his retirement last month after three years on the job. He becomes the first African-American to ever serve as Downey's chief of police.
Esteves, who promoted Charles to captain, praised him for his exemplary character and thanked him for being his counselor during difficult seasons of his tenure.
"Carl is one of the best friends I have in the world. He's a good man, a good person," said Esteves. "To the men and women of the Downey Police Department, know you have a man who cares about people. His decisions aren't based on numbers, but he thinks about the impact on lives."
Hired as a Downey police officer in 1990, Charles quickly moved up the ranks, earning promotions to sergeant, lieutenant, and eventually captain. During that time, he worked in all three police department divisions, which include administration, field operations and the detective bureau.
"Mr. Charles' exemplary commitment and dedication to the Downey community is reflected in his many years of service to our city," said Mayor Roger Brossmer in a statement. "We are confident that Captain Charles will continue to lead our fine police department with the highest regard and integrity."
During the swearing-in ceremony, Charles elected his father, Carl Charles Sr., to issue the oath of office.
"In this moment, I'm reminded of the dreams your dad had for you - law school," quipped Charles Sr., drawing laughs from the audience. "But it wasn't about me, it was about you. I'm more proud of the son you are, the kind of person you are."
Born and raised in Inglewood, Charles, a married father of two children, holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Cal State Northridge and a master's in public administration from USC.
Standing before the crowd, Charles promised to never ask anything of his Downey officers that he wouldn't do himself.
"This has been a touching experience for me, you've touched my heart," he said. "I'm honored to be the 10th chief of police - I don't take it lightly. I commit today to walk in honesty, integrity, enthusiasm, and commitment to make this place the best place to live, work, and play."
Published: December 6, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 34