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The city of Guadalupe is set to begin the search for a new chief of police after Public Safety Director Gary Hoving announced his desire to retire at the end of his employment agreement.  

"It's sad news," Councilman Ariston Julian said of Hoving's announcement Tuesday. "I don't enjoy the thought of losing [Chief Hoving.]" 

According to Human Resources Coordinator Amelia Villegas, Hoving's employment agreement is set to expire July 1, but he has expressed an interest in extending his contract through September should a replacement have yet to be found. Speaking during Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Villegas presented council members with two options to find a replacement — hire an external search firm or conduct the search themselves.

Though no vote was made, the council unanimously voiced support for conducting the search in-house. The position has been filled twice before during Villegas' tenure with the city — once in 2008, when George Mitchell was hired as chief of police, and again in 2013, when Hoving was hired. Both hirings were conducted without the assistance of an external search firm.

Villegas estimated the cost of contracting an external search firm between $25,000 and $30,000. An in-house search conducted by staff, city officials and representatives from allied law enforcement agencies would range between $2,000 and $3,500.

To further standardize the city's hiring procedure and attract the largest pool of applicants as possible, the position has been renamed "chief of police." The duties will not change, as a newly selected chief will retain administrative responsibility for both Police and Fire departments.

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"In this particular instance, I think [Villegas] has done a thorough job of looking at nearby cities to see how they've done it," City Administrator Cruz Ramos said. "We reached out to some cities in the Central Valley ... [and found that they] conducted their search internally."

Hoving joined the Guadalupe Police Department five years ago after a 29-year career with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department. As the city's first public safety director, he managed Guadalupe's Fire and Police departments. Prior to heading the police force, Hoving served as a reserve sergeant with the department for two years.

"I have to realize that I started in this business full-time in 1975," Hoving said. "We're getting close to the end, [but] I love this place and wouldn't leave it hanging."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga


Education Reporter

Santa Maria Times reporter Mathew Burciaga covers education for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.