Westmorland swears in new police chief

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Westmorland Police Chief Perry Monica arrives for his swearing in ceremony at the Westmorland community center Tuesday. Lloyd Miller photo.

WESTMORLAND — The city of Westmorland held a swearing in ceremony for new police Chief Perry Monita Tuesday in the community center. Police Commissioner Mary Ann Smith introduced Chief Monita and City Clerk Sally Traylor performed the swearing-in duties.

Chief Monita spoke after the ceremony.

“This is a big day for myself and the city of Westmorland,” said Monita. “I want to thank everyone for being here, including my police family from Brawley. It means a lot to me. I’d like to thank my new family here in Westmorland that has made me welcome. This has gone above and beyond anything I was expecting.”

“Every challenge presents opportunity,” continued Monita. “I think this is an opportunity for myself and the people of Westmorland. I would also like to thank my wife, Julie, for her support. I retired from law enforcement after many years. It was the right thing to do at the time. This gives me a chance to get back into law enforcement. I think I still can provide some training and mentoring to my new officers here. I look forward to that. I have seen a lot of the changes the city has made and I look forward to the future of the city of Westmorland.”

Monita retired from the Brawley Police Department after twenty-seven and a half years of service. He began his law enforcement career in Calipatria for one year, and in Westmorland for one year, before joining the Brawley Police Department.

Monita will be leading a new force, which the police commissioner introduced as her “Dream Team Structure” based on education, experience, and certifications. The team members include officers Ruvalcaba, Araujo, Alvarez, Quevedo, Soto, Ruiz, and Wheelock. The management team includes Corporal Martinez, Sergeant Reyes, and Lieutenant Barabino.

This is the first time Westmorland has had a female officer and lieutenant positions, according to Traylor.

The naming of Monita as chief comes after months of speculation after the retirement of Chief Fred Beltran in May. Beltran suddenly announced his retirement after issues reportedly arose concerning overtime pay for the department. The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office had supplied a sergeant to supervise the Westmorland Police Department until a new chief was found.