If there was a theme to the Tustin Police Department’s recent swearing in and promotion ceremony, it could be summed up by the comments Chief Charlie Celano delivered just before introducing two recently hired officers and announcing the promotions of three others.
“We love welcoming new blood into our family,” Celano said during a brief ceremony held July 19 in City Council Chambers. “Promotions are very special to us. I know change can be unsettling, as we lose great leadership with every retirement, but what is really encouraging is that we have some great folks coming up through the ranks.”
Officer Josh Schlesinger, a lifelong Tustin resident who started his law enforcement career as a Tustin Police Explorer, was sworn in as one of the agency’s newest officers.
Schlesinger graduated from Beckman High School in 2014 and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in political science from UC Irvine in 2017.
He advanced from Explorer to Cadet to recruit and graduated from the Golden West Criminal Justice Training Center.
Officer David Akers, a lateral hire from the Los Angeles Port Police, graduated from the Los Angeles Police Academy in 2017.
“Everybody has been very welcoming,” Akers said. “It’s the most welcomed I’ve felt at any job.”
The first promotion of the ceremony was to Scott Wright who was promoted to Sergeant. Wright was hired by the Tustin Police Department as a recruit in 2007 and has worked patrol, as a school resource officer, and as a field training officer.
Wright graduated from Tustin High School in 1994 and earned a degree from Chapman University.
“We really put a lot of hope and a lot of faith in our sergeants,” Celano said. “Sergeants drive the culture. The sergeants are out there in the field with our officers.”
Next up was Ryan Coe, who was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant. Coe was hired by the Tustin Police Department as a recruit in 2005 and has worked in patrol, investigations, and the traffic unit. He was promoted to sergeant in 2013 and was assigned to the traffic unit in 2015.
Coe also served as military police in the Air Force before becoming a police officer.
“I promise that I will continue with my determination, my hard drive, and my positive attitude for many years to come,” Coe said.
The final promotion of the ceremony was for Jeff Blair. Blair was being promoted from captain to deputy chief, a job Celano called “one of the most critical positions in the department.”
“It is my right-hand man,” Celano said. “It’s the person who not only fully supports my vision but does everything possible to try and implement that vision and keep everybody moving in the same direction, including the day-to-day operations.”
Celano, who recently announced his own retirement, noted that a deputy chief serves as a chief’s accountability partner, who will not always agree with his decisions.
“You need people who are going to tell you and challenge you and ask you, is this really the way you want to go?” Celano said. “I have no doubt that this man is going to continue that tradition and be that type of support, not just for me, but for the next chief coming in.”
Hired by the Tustin Police Department in 1989, Blair also has deep roots in the community.
Blair graduated from Tustin High School in 1986 and went through the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003, to lieutenant in 2013, and to captain in 2017.
“I walked through these doors as a 20-year-old kid and was handed this amazing career,” Blair said. “This is where I grew up. Our relationship with the community is amazing. I never take that for granted. I love being a police officer, but more importantly, I love being a Tustin police officer.”