By Jeff Pack

Menifee welcomes first-ever chief of police


Last updated 4/12/2019 at 7:55am

Shane Gibson photo

Menifee's inaugural chief of police Pat Walsh attends a meet and greet ceremony introducing him to the city, April 2.

The city of Menifee welcomed the man that will be charged with building the city's first municipal police force over the course of the next 18 months Tuesday, April 2, at City Hall.

Pat Walsh was named chief of police for the Menifee Police Department, which was formally approved by Menifee City Council in November 2018.

While Walsh leads the formation of the police force expected to launch in July 2020, the city will continue to be protected as it has been by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The city's plan for the police force launch on day one will include 55 sworn officers on the street.

Tuesday, Walsh, in plain clothes, sat in the front row with his wife, Kathryn, while city officials, representatives from police departments in neighboring cities, Riverside County Sheriff's Department officials, and members of the community gathered to celebrate his hiring.

"Today is one of those milestones along the way that myself, my city council colleagues and this management team had resolved to do," Menifee Mayor Bill Zimmerman told the crowd. "This is possibly the biggest decision this city council in Menifee will ever make."

Zimmerman said he would give Walsh all the tools he would need to "build a very top-notch police department for the people of Menifee."

City Manager Armando Villa led the feasibility study for transition and was ultimately responsible for hiring Walsh.

Villa said Walsh was chosen from a pool of 49 candidates spanning from nine states and two foreign countries and lauded Walsh for his performance during interviews with law enforcement veterans, city staff and a community panel to solidify his selection.

"I'm here to tell you we found our guy," Villa told the audience. "At just about every step of the way, Pat surfaced to the top. This is not an easy task. It requires a lot of skill sets, a lot of people coming together to make this happen."

Villa thanked the citizens of Menifee for approving Measure DD.

"I thank you for approving Measure DD," he said. "Without Measure DD, we couldn't make this happen. This became a very important component of us being able to even plan to have our own police department, having the funding necessary to do so."

Villa introduced Walsh to the crowd.

"I too want to echo to the council; it took a lot of courage to do what you've done," Walsh said. "And thank you, city manager Villa for selecting me. Thank you for hiring me; I will not let you down."

Walsh is a decorated 35-year law enforcement leader. A graduate of the United States Naval Postgraduate School – Center for Homeland Defense and Security, Walsh is widely known in the law enforcement community as an innovative reformer, passionate about training and accountability. He began his law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County in 1984. He transferred to the Portland Police Bureau in Oregon in 1992 and served the city of Portland, Oregon, for 22 years. As an officer in Portland, Walsh worked for many years as an undercover narcotics investigator assigned to a federal drug interdiction task force. During that time, he received a chief's commendation for his work in dismantling a multi-state drug distribution ring. Walsh later returned to the narcotics and vice unit as a sergeant, supervising several teams of federal and local agents.

"I'm not from Menifee, but you need to know that everybody's talking about Menifee," Walsh told the crowd. "Not just the police department, but about your city. I'm part of a lot of groups that are statewide, California Police Chiefs' Association and all of the chiefs talk and collaborate together, and Menifee keeps coming up. Now that you're doing this – it's a big deal, this is a big deal. I feel a lot of pressure, but the city manager has put together an incredible team. The city staff has been incredible and they're on board, they're ready to do this.

"As a team, we're ready to go forward and we're going to pick really great people," Walsh said.

Walsh said he was excited about the challenge in front of him.

"We have an opportunity to create a culture we want," he said. "When you take over a police department as a chief, it's kinda neat, but you've inherited this police department that's already running. That's not a bad thing, but here we get to start our own police department."

He talked a little bit about the team he wants to build.

"I want officers that are innovative, are technologically savvy – so they can help me – I want them to think outside the box and communicate a lot," Walsh said. "In my career, I find that if you just talk to people, then they don't make up their own mind about what's going on."

He also wants his officers to be active in the community.

"We don't do our job without the community helping us," Walsh said. "My philosophy is community policing, but you won't hear me say that a lot about it a lot, because we're just going to do it. We're going to pick the right kind of people and they're going to do it as well."

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco reassured the audience about the transition.

"We are not politicians," Bianco said. "We are law enforcement officers. And I want to assure all of you that he and I are not politicians and we are here, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, and your new chief of police, are here to make sure your new police department goes off without a hitch. You guys are the most important thing to us.

"I am proud to welcome (Walsh) on behalf of Riverside County law enforcement, (District Attorney) Hestrin and our two chiefs of police from Riverside County that are here tonight ... welcome, it's going to be a good run," Bianco said.

After the presentation, Walsh met with members of the press and the community in a meet and greet.

"This is amazing," he said. "It shows that the community is behind this and interested and I look forward to that. Who gets to start a police department, right; it's very rare. It's a great opportunity personally for me and to build a culture that you want and that fits the city. I'm really excited about it, I think it's going to be great for Menifee."

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]

Shane Gibson photo

Area law enforcement congratulate Pat Walsh for his inaugural position as police chief for the city of Menifee.


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