Meet La Habra’s two newest lateral police officers.
Officer David Grkinich and Officer Jonathan Gama represent the newest lateral officers who started on January 8. Their hiring brings the police department to 69 officers.
Grkinich knew he wanted to be in law enforcement since he was a child. He credits that to his father, David who serves as Bureau Chief at Los Angeles County Probation.
Grkinich is a graduate of Cal State Fullerton, where he majored in criminal justice, and gained experience in law enforcement as a Community Service Officer on the college campus and later he became a Cal State Fullerton Police Officer.
As an undergraduate, Grkinich was employed as one of the 41 student community service officers at the CSUF Police Department where he and the team would provide services such as nightly safety escorts, loss prevention, fire watches, campus patrols, awareness, education and much more.
Grkinich attended and graduated top of his class at Rio Hondo Police Academy, learning academic skills, discipline and practical scenario and physical training for a career in law enforcement.
He was hired by Cal State Fullerton Police Department and spent the first two years of his career as a CSUF Police Officer. Desiring more of a municipal police environment he chose to start looking at city police departments. He chose La Habra because he liked the atmosphere of the city and teamwork he saw among the officers as well as the opportunities that La Habra provided.
“I always had great interactions with law enforcement, from engaging in programs at high school to having positive role models who were in law enforcement,” Grkinich said. “Despite a lot of negative images in the press, I saw a lot of the good that happens in this profession first hand.”
“La Habra is an excellent environment where the citizens are very supportive of their law enforcement,” Grkinich said. “The department is small enough where it’s a familial atmosphere – you’re not just a number – and they take pride in people’s work.”
Gama graduated from Orange High School in 2005 where he played basketball. It was while in high school he learned the value of teamwork and saw law enforcement as a place where teamwork was key. He went to California State University Fullerton where he got his bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. He then began looking for his career in law enforcement.
Though he didn’t have family members or friends who served in law enforcement, Gama said he was drawn to becoming an officer at a young age.
In the third grade, he painted a picture of himself arresting someone. His mother still has the picture today.
“I guess you could say I always had a gut feeling I was going to be a cop,” Gama said.
Gama began his career with the San Bernardino Sheriff Department. After a few years he began looking to lateral to a department that had lots of police work and a great atmosphere. He choose to apply with the La Habra PD. He was hired and has not looked back.
“One of the key messages at this department is that when doing the right thing, everything else will fall into place,” Gama said.
Gama said he appreciates the family-oriented community of La Habra and that he continues to learn from every call. Every call may start the same, but they each have a different dynamic and are unique in their own way.
“I see myself staying at La Habra for the rest of my career and I just want to do a good job,” Gama said.
The newest additions to the La Habra PD reinforce the notion that La Habra is a city that attracts, retains and develops professionals who will build and grow their careers. The opportunity to engage in a community policing-environment was a draw, Grkinich and Gama said.
The La Habra police department’s hiring process is demanding, and only those individuals who meet the highest standards are considered for employment. Chief Price is always looking for a few more great candidates. He is looking for new people who will do great things.