Campos to retire as police chief

DOWNEY - Roy Campos, chief of the Downey Police Department the past four years, has announced his retirement effective Dec. 2."Part of my plan from day one was to put in 30 years in law enforcement before retiring," said Campos, who will turn 52 next Friday. "I've seen people retire around this stage and it seems to work well for them." Campos said he has no immediate plans after retirement, other than to spend the first few months enjoying the free time. Later, Campos said he would like to spend his time volunteering, possibly at an elementary school or with senior citizens. Consulting work is also a possibility, he said. Campos' replacement is expected to be announced at the Sept. 22 City Council meeting, City Manager Gerald Caton said. In the meantime, he lauded Campos as a leader who helped bridge the department to the community it serves. "Roy was an excellent police chief; he's done a great job," Caton said. "We are very selective on who we hire as police officers, and we have not always been able to fill those positions. But with Roy we are totally hired now and running on full bar." Campos began his law enforcement career in 1977 as a police student worker with the LAPD. He entered the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Academy the following year and graduated first in his class with the distinction of Honor Cadet. After six months with the Sheriff's Department, Campos joined the Downey Police Department in 1979. He was promoted to chief on Oct. 28, 2005, replacing the retiring John Finch. Campos was Downey's eighth police chief and the department's first Hispanic chief. "I was a newcomer to the City Council when Roy was selected as chief," Councilman David Gafin said on Wednesday. "I thought it was a wise decision then, and four years later, evidence shows it was a very wise decision." Gafin said Downey enjoyed falling crime stats under Campos' tenure. "When the City Council approved plans to increase the number of police officers ten-fold, it fell on his lap," Gafin said. "He did a wonderful job." To combat gangs, Campos increased the number of detectives assigned to the department's gang unit and created a task force responsible for combating robberies and burglaries. Also under Campos' tenure, police cruisers were outfitted with video recorders and GPS tracking devices, the GPS to help officers quickly reach addresses during emergencies. The department also began using a graffiti tracking system that catalogs graffiti and helps identify tagging suspects. In a 2007 interview with the Downey Patriot, Campos said, "I'm most proud of the tremendous work ethic of our police officers and our civilian employees. I've looked at the quality of people in the department, and how much they care, and I'm honored to lead them. Our people are truly of the highest quality and we don't ever want to lower our standards." He added: "It's my job to make sure that my police officers are diligent and, in plain terms, nosy." Mayor Mario Guerra said Campos leaves behind a legacy of leadership and professionalism. "Roy Campos has been a class act and a top professional and his legacy is the great condition in which he leaves the police department," Guerra said. "Crime continues to go down and our police is the model of proficiency and professionalism, and that's a testament to his leadership." Caton said the next police chief would come from within Downey's own ranks. "It will be somebody who can continue the quality of the department, someone who wants to improve the department," Caton said. "No matter how great an organization is, it can always get better." Gafin expressed optimism no matter who the new chief is. "(Campos) will be a huge loss, obviously," Gafin said. "But we have people waiting in the wings who I'm sure can fill his shoes. Roy has done a great job training the people underneath him. "There won't be a hiccup in the action," he added.

********** Published: September 4, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 20

NewsEric Pierce