So, what does a new deputy chief at the Anaheim PD do on his first day on the job?
For starters, Rick Armendariz visits the Homicide Detail to have a cup of their famous coffee. Homicide Det. John “J.D.” Duran gives Armendariz a commemorative cup from the unit’s “10% Club” coffee bar.
At 8:30 a.m., Chief Jorge Cisneros gives Armendariz an overview of the APD – where the agency stands, where it’s headed, and what the chief’s goals are.
Then, after that, Armendariz, whose first day on the job was Monday, Oct. 21, hits the APD’s indoor range to qualify to carry a handgun (he passes with flying colors).
And he spends the rest of the day walking through APD headquarters and meeting the troops – as well as hitting HR for paperwork and the briefing room between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to meet a steady stream of APD personnel who stop by for coffee, cookies, and chit-chat.
“It’s like drinking out of a firehose,” Armendariz says of his first day as deputy chief.
Armendariz comes to the APD’s No. 2 position from the Modesto PD, where he spent 24 years. He served as assistant chief from 2015 until he was hired for the position formerly held by retired APD Deputy Chief Julian Harvey, who will spend the next several weeks showing Armendariz the ropes.
Last week, Armendariz and his wife packed up their belongings and drove to Orange County to start their new lives. Their two youngest daughters will join them after the current school year ends next spring (their oldest is attending college in Arizona).
After finding a place to live, Armendariz and his wife made several trips to Target, IKEA, and Costco.
And, on Monday, it was time for Armendariz to get to work.
Cisneros formally swore him into office at 10 a.m. on Oct. 21, 2019.
Armendariz’s ceremonial swearing-in, which will include his family and APD personnel, is set for Nov. 15.
AN EXPLORER IN CERES
Armendariz grew up in San Jose but his family moved to Modesto when he was 16 after his father, a construction foreman, retired.
In high school, Armendariz got involved in ROP and then became an explorer for the Ceres PD.
That got him hooked on law enforcement.
Armendariz joined the Modesto PD in 1995.
From February 2017 to November 2019, when he was MPD assistant chief, Armendariz served as interim deputy city manager. In that capacity, he was in charge of launching a “Great Safe Neighborhood Initiative.”
“If you take out the term ‘crime’ and you replace it with ‘quality of life,’” Armendariz said, “now all your municipal departments work collaboratively on (safety).” More than 300 neighborhood watch groups were created in Modesto as part of that initiative.
Taking classes remotely, Armendariz earned a master’s degree in Emergency Service Management from Cal State Long Beach in 2006.
In 2003, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice administration from Chapman University.
While at the Modesto PD, which has 240 sworn officers compared to more than 400 in Anaheim, Armendariz also served as co-host of a radio show, “Behind the Badge,” on Power Talk 1360 AM.
And he served several years at the Modesto PD as a public information officer.
Armendariz, in fact, cut his teeth as a PIO there working for then PIO Doug Ridenour when the notorious Laci Peterson murder case erupted in December 2002.
Laci’s husband, Scott Peterson, later was convicted of first-degree murder for her death and second-degree murder for the death of their prenatal son, Conner. Peterson currently is on Death Row.
In addition to his PIO experience, Armendariz has worked in many areas of policing, including time in dispatch, patrol, gangs, crimes against children, violent crimes, and internal affairs. He has also commanded the SWAT Team, the K9 unit, and an FBI Safe Streets task force.
Armendariz knew Anaheim PD always had a solid reputation as a leader in law enforcement, so when a job recruiter reached out to him about the APD position, he started considering a potential move.
“The more I learned about the Anaheim PD,” he said, “the more I realized this was a top-notch agency.”
Armendariz didn’t know Cisneros personally, but he knew that he was relatively new to the top position.
“I had (friends in law enforcement) that knew (Cisneros), and everything I heard about the organization was positive – and everything I heard about the chief was solid,” Armendariz said.
Armendariz knew Cisneros was making changes to the APD command staff, which appealed to him.
He went through a similar process at the Modesto PD when Chief Galen Carroll came on board seven years ago, right before Armendariz was promoted to captain.
“Both wanted to take agencies to a higher level,” Armendariz said.
“I started to realize that a lot of the initiatives (Cisneros) wanted to pursue — for example, being more strategic about crime analysis and utilizing resources like a real-time crime center and incorporating that into how our officers are deployed daily – were things that I experienced in Modesto,” he added.
“So a lot of these similarities I really gravitated to…the more I just learned about the (APD), the more I was attracted to the job.”
MEET AND GREET
During the meet-and-greet session Monday afternoon, Armendariz, clutching a bottle of water, spent time introducing himself to several APD staffers who stopped by the briefing room.
“Hi, Dan Heffner,” Heffner, a detective on the Burglary & Auto Theft Detail, said in introducing himself to Armendariz.
“He actually rappels out of helicopters,” one colleague quipped of Heffner.
“As things start settling in,” Armendariz told Heffner and his colleagues, “I’ll have more time to meet one on one. Right now, I’m on a listening and learning schedule. I’m here to learn how we do things – the Anaheim way.”
Armendariz said his focus over the next several weeks will be learning the needs of the various agency units and getting to know people – and allowing people to get to know him.
“I don’t like using the term open door, it’s a cliché, but I’m personable,” he told one APD staffer. “What you see is what you get.”
Armendariz introduced himself to Sgt. Bob Conklin Jr., of the APD’s Youth Services Detail – C4K (Cops For Kids)/ Explorers.
“I’m impressed with the amount of engaging you do with youth,” he told Conklin, referring to Cops 4 Kids, the Explorer Program, and other APD initiatives.
“We’re having a good time,” Conklin replied. “The kids are very impressive.”
He spotted Duran, of the Homicide Detail.
“I didn’t bring my mug, I apologize,” Armendariz told Duran.
Anaheim averages about 12 homicides a year, Homicide Detail Sgt. Jeff Mundy told Armendariz. The homicide rate in Modesto, which has about 215,000 residents, is much higher, Armendariz replied.
Armendariz then chatted with Sgt. Juan Revelas, who supervises the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force.
Reveles told Armendariz how he went up to Stanislaus County (Modesto is part of that county) about two years ago to hold a three-day training seminar for officers who wanted to learn more about human trafficking.
Reveles said Armendariz seemed like a very good guy.
“They’re all nice when they start,” he added with a laugh.
Armendariz and his wife have been married for 22 years. Their eldest daughter, 19, is a sophomore at Grand Canyon University, a private Christian school in Phoenix.
Their middle daughter, 17, is a high school senior who is interested in CSI and psychology.
Their 13-year-old daughter is in the eighth grade.
Armendariz said outside of work, he enjoys camping and fishing.
“But my greatest joy,” he said, “is watching my daughters play school and travel-league volleyball.”