They’re called “laterals” — cops who switch to other police agencies.
With competition for fresh recruits fierce, police departments especially love adding seasoned cops to their force, since they come with maturity and experience and require less hands-on training before being sent out on their own to patrol the streets.
Tuesday night, the Garden Grove PD swore in five laterals — a clear sign of the agency’s reputation as a top-notch department.
Two of the new officers came from the Fountain Valley PD (they made up that agency’s entire motor division).
One came from the Santa Ana Unified School District PD, another transferred from the Kern County Sheriff’s Dept., and the fifth new GGPD cop transferred from Huntington Park.
Two are military veterans.
“This is a great day for the City of Garden Grove,” City Manager Scott Stiles said at the hour-long swearing-in ceremony at the Garden Grove Community Center — a gathering that attracted officers from several agencies and relatives and friends of the five new GGPD cops.
“The five of you are joining a very proud organization,” Stiles said. “When you look around the country and see some of the issues going on, these are issues you don’t see happening in Garden Grove. And that’s because of all the work (you) do with our community and all the training (you’ve) done.”
Police Chief Todd Elgin said his agency needs the five new officers now more than ever.
The five new hires bring to 166 the total number of sworn officers at the GGPD, which still is understaffed given the size of the city, which has a population of about 200,000, Elgin said.
“This has been a long time coming,” Elgin told the assembled. “We worked hard to get these guys ready to go.”
Elgin noted that in the last 19 months, Part I crime rates in Garden Grove are up nearly 45 percent “across the board” due to prison realignment and Prop. 47.
“We do more with less — we always have,” Elgin noted, referring to his agency’s reputation of avoiding the negative “noise” on social media and elsewhere about law enforcement and focusing on doing good police work every day.
Elgin noted that the hiring process is getting tougher and tougher for police agencies everywhere.
He said six months ago, the GGPD was receiving between 550 and 600 applications for entry-level cop positions. His agency’s last recruitment, a few months ago, yielded about 270 applications.
Stahl was asked why he left the Huntington Park PD to join the GGPD.
“Stability, the size of the department, and the growth that’s happening in the city as well as the agency,” he said.
Meet the GGPD’s five new laterals:
Ashbaugh, 31, grew up in Orange County. He comes to the GGPD from the Santa Ana Unified School District, which he joined in 2010.
From 2006 to 2010, Ashbaugh served as a reserve firefighter for the Orange County Fire Authority.
He started his law enforcement career in 2003 as an explorer with the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept. and achieved the rank of explorer sergeant. In 2006, Ashbaugh was hired as a booking officer/jailer for the Laguna Beach PD.
Ashbaugh currently is attending college to complete his criminal justice degree.
King, 25, comes to the GGPD from the Kern County Sheriff’s Dept., where since June 2014 he has been a deputy assigned to the jail.
He received his EMT certificate in 2010 and currently is going to college to complete his associate’s degree.
Stall, 38, grew up in Orange County. He comes to the GGPD from the Huntington Park PD, which he joined in 2010. His most recent assignment was detective on the gang detail.
Staal started his law enforcement career in 2002 at the Los Angeles PD and transferred to the Laguna Beach PD in 2004.
He is married with two young daughters.
Cheatham, 35, grew up in Massachusetts and California. He comes to the GGPD from the Fountain Valley PD, which he joined in 2007 and where he most recently served as a motor officer.
Cheatham served in the U.S. Army from 1999 to 2003. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 and to Iraq in 2002.
Cheatham recently graduated from the University of Phoenix with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Knight, 36, grew up in Orange County. He comes to the GGPD from the Fountain Valley PD, which he joined in 2008 and where he served as a motor officer and a SWAT sniper.
Knight started his law enforcement career in 2005 with the Orange County Sheriff’s Dept., where he served as a special services officer.
He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003 and was deployed to Egypt in 2001 and to Iraq in 2003.
Knight currently is attending college and is four classes away from completing his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
He is married with four children who range in age from 6 months old to 17.