A standing-room only crowd gathered Wednesday, Aug. 22 to witness Anaheim’s 35th chief of police, Jorge Cisneros, get sworn in as leader of Orange County’s largest municipal law enforcement agency.
The 30-minute ceremony, held in the Downtown Anaheim Community Center, was punctuated several times by applause, notably for APD Deputy Chief Julian Harvey, who since October 2017 has served as acting chief following the resignation of former APD Chief Raul Quezada.
Chiefs of police from several agencies, as well as Anaheim city leaders, were on hand to watch Cisneros get sworn in and to congratulate him afterward and pose for pictures.
Cisneros, 52, brings to the job more than 25 years of law enforcement experience, including nearly a decade as a police chief, most recently at UC Irvine and before that for the city of Huntington Park. He rose to the rank of chief of staff at the Long Beach PD, an agency where he spent 19 years.
APD Lt. Eric Trapp introduced Cisneros to the crowd, which included his mother, wife and two daughters.
“The experience of Chief Cisneros…will be of value to us here in Anaheim,” said Trapp, noting how Long Beach demographics are similar to Anaheim’s, with Spanish-speakers making up about half the city’s population. Cisneros was known in Long Beach for establishing strong partnerships with the Spanish-speaking community, an ongoing priority for the Anaheim PD.
In Long Beach, Cisneros formed and ran the city’s office of counterterrorism, and he also oversaw a similar program for the entire University of California system of 10 universities. Such experience will serve him well in Anaheim, Trapp said. The city attracts 25 million tourists a year.
The APD has more than 400 sworn personnel (and 600 employees overall) who protect the city’s visitors as well as the city’s more than 357,000 residents and 20,000 businesses.
“We thank you for the skills and the abilities (that) Chief Cisneros brings to the city,” APD Chaplain Kerry Duerr said in his invocation. “Grant to Chief Cisneros the qualities of leadership, stability and humility…(and) protect him and all of those who live in our city.”
“Welcome to Brew City,” Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait quipped, referring to the many craft breweries in Anaheim.
“Chief Cisneros has the experience and character to help shape the next generation of community policing in Anaheim,” Tait said. “Throughout his career, he has ensured public safety while earning the trust of those he has been entrusted to serve.”
Tait thanked Harvey for his “professionalism and class” in guiding the APD’s transition to a new chief.
“Here in Anaheim, we are proud to be a City of Kindness, a simple but powerful idea that guides everything we do,” Tait said.
The mayor praised the APD for carrying out that philosophy as it battles such problems as gangs, drug abuse, human trafficking, bullying and violence.
“No one should confuse kindness with weakness, or with a lack of resolve or with allowing anyone to harm others,” Tait said. “We ask the men and women of the Anaheim Police Department to do some of the hardest work in our city (and to be) kind in helping people in their hour of need, and putting their lives in danger to protect others, (which is the) ultimate act of kindness.
“We now look to Chief Cisneros for leadership as (he continues) to serve and protect our community in ways that are rooted in kindness.”
Joe Reiss, a retired captain at the APD who worked at the agency for 33 years, joined the UCI Police Department seven years ago. Now a lieutenant, Reiss previously served as acting captain at UCI.
“He’s a cop’s cop,” Reiss said. “The troops are going to enjoy him. He rose up the ranks and loves police work. He gets enthusiastic about cases and loves talking to cops and hearing their stories.”
Reiss noted that while at UCI, Cisneros launched several community engagement programs, such as SAFER, which stands for Standing with Anteaters to Foster Engagement and Responsibility. In that program, sergeants are assigned to specific communities on the campus to develop relationships, solve problems and streamline the PD’s response to community needs.
While at UCI, Cisneros also launched a monthly internal magazine, Station 11, that highlights the good work being done by UCI officers, and well as a quarterly external magazine.
“He’s going to be a good fit in Anaheim,” Reiss said. “He’s highly respected, and I enjoyed working with him.”
After Anaheim City Clerk Linda Andal administered Cisneros the oath, Cisneros thanked city officials and his colleagues at the APD.
“It is my honor to address you as chief of the Anaheim Police Department,” Cisneros said. “I’m humbled by this opportunity to serve this city…
“To the men and women of the Anaheim Police Department, thank you for the support you have extended to me. I want you to know I plan to return the support you’ve shown me by facilitating what you do. We ask you to do some of the hardest work in any city government, and you do so with respect, dedication, integrity, and professionalism.”
Wednesday was Cisneros’ 22nd day on the job, and he said he’s “still listening and learning” as far as his plans for the agency.
“I do come to this position with some guiding principles,” Cisneros said. “First is to work with those we serve to address and prevent crime… Second is to build on the great community trust that has been established by this department. Third is to work collectively with other city departments and community partners to improve the lives of everyone here.
“Lastly, I believe a solid foundation is essential. As chief, I will foster strong team sharing…and capitalize on our individual strengths to craft responses and solutions to sustain momentum toward achieving our goals.”
Cisneros acknowledged the many chiefs, present and past, in the audience.
“We thank you for your past, current and future partnerships,” Cisneros said. “Note that Anaheim stands ready to assist you however we can.”
Cisneros thanked his mother for making a huge difference in his life by raising him and his younger brother after she and her husband separated when Cisneros was young.
Cisneros’ mother saved for 10 years to buy a family home in Long Beach, he noted.
“She taught me dedication, respect and the value of hard work,” said Cisneros, who also thanked his wife, Julie, and daughters Tori and Bella for their support.
Anaheim is a homecoming for Cisneros and his wife. They bought their first home on Center Street after getting married, and lived there for several years in the 1990s.
“I gained a love and appreciation for this city,” Cisneros said, “and I couldn’t be more honored to be back in Anaheim.”