Driving to Modesto from Orange County at around 3 on a Friday afternoon probably isn’t on anyone’s list of “Fun Ways to Kick Off the Weekend.”
But Rick Armendariz is worth it – easily, his former colleagues say.
About a dozen current and former sworn and professional staff members of the Modesto PD were happy and thrilled to make the nearly 400-mile commute late last week, to Orange County and then back home after watching Armendariz be sworn in as the Anaheim PD’s new deputy chief.
And they didn’t care how long they’d be stuck on traffic-choked freeways.
Armendariz, his former colleagues say, is an amazing guy – and the Anaheim PD is lucky to have him.
“He was more than just a right-hand person,” Modesto PD Chief Galen Carroll said of Armendariz, who formally was sworn in by APD Chief Jorge Cisneros on Oct. 21. The latest swearing-in ceremony, on Friday, Nov. 15, was for Armendariz’ family and friends at the APD and MPD.
“He was a good friend,” Carroll said. “We still talk once a week.”
The first promotion Carroll made when he became chief of the Modesto PD, in 2013, was elevating Armendariz to the rank of captain.
“He’s always coming up with new ideas,” said Carroll, who spent two decades working with Cisneros at the Long Beach PD. “He’s always thinking of different things, and he can see things from multiple people’s points of view.
“Sometimes you get locked in and only see things from your point of view. He’s always thinking and always studying and trying to figure things out.”
With his wife, two of his three daughters, and other relatives looking on from the front rows of the APD’s training auditorium, Armendariz delivered some brief remarks.
“Thank you for the trust and the enormous responsibility that you have bestowed upon me,” he said, addressing Cisneros and other members of the APD. “It’s a tremendous honor, and I’m very humbled and grateful.
“I’d first like to thank God for blessing me and my family with this amazing opportunity to be part of one of the most prestigious law enforcement agencies in the nation serving a world-class city.”
Armendariz, who spent 24 years at the MPD, rising to the rank of assistant police chief and also serving a dual role as interim deputy city manager, then surprised his wife, Lorena, with 22 red and pink roses. The swearing-in ceremony happened to fall on their 22nd wedding anniversary.
“You’re truly the love of my life,” he said to Lorena, “and I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if it wasn’t for your love, support, strength, and encouragement. Thank you very much.”
Added Armendariz: “To my new family (at the APD), you have a love for the city. You have a love for this department. And for me, I’m falling in love with the city and the department … We can do amazing things together.”
Cisneros, who was sworn in as the APD’s 36th chief on Aug. 22, 2018, called Armendariz’s swearing-in a “momentous day.”
As deputy chief, Armendariz runs the day-to-day operations of the APD, which protects 360,000 residents, 22,000 businesses, and 25 million visitors who flock to the city each year.
“If I can use football as an analogy,” Cisneros said, “we have found the right quarterback. And like any great quarterback, they’re keenly aware that the victories are in the trenches and the losses are on their shoulders. … (Armendariz) understands that our job is to provide the environment and the necessary tools for others to succeed.
“Rick brings the skills, knowledge, and abilities to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the position.”
In a brief interview, Lorena Armendariz expressed her gratitude to the APD as daughters Kayla, 17, a high school senior, and Julia, 13, an eighth-grader, looked on. Their sister, Maya, 19, is attending college in Phoenix and was unable to be at the Nov. 15 swearing-in.
“I’m excited,” Lorena said. “I’m very thankful for the Anaheim PD for welcoming him and making him feel at home.”
Modesto PD Lt. Martha Delgado has been at the agency for 20 years.
“He (Armendariz) has been there my entire career and since day one, he’s always been a very supportive individual,” Delgado said. “When someone joins the agency, he always takes the time to make them feel like they’re a part of the family, that they’re part of the team, and he always checks on you and he remembers people’s names, which is very important.
“He welcomed me into the law enforcement family and then we became friends and I was able to meet his family. When he talks to people, he means what he says. It’s a great loss to the Modesto Police Department and the community. But it’s a big gain for the city of Anaheim.”