‘God bless all who serve and wear the badge’

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BY COLLEEN JANSSEN: “I believe this new chief has a vision to bring everyone together,” said Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, at a swearing in ceremony for Westminster Chief of Police Ralph Ornelas, held at City Hall. “He will interact more with the community and gain trust with the community.”

BY COLLEEN JANSSEN: “I believe this new chief has a vision to bring everyone together,” said Westminster Mayor Tri Ta, at a swearing in ceremony for Westminster Chief of Police Ralph Ornelas, held at City Hall. “He will interact more with the community and gain trust with the community.”

“At the end of the day, we need support and help for our police department,” Ta added. “Chief Ornelas is very humble and honest. We are honored he accepted the new role with Westminster. “I think we continue to build trust with the community and stand on principle. He is a public servant who is honest and will go the extra mile. He is going to be a good chief for Westminster. He also has great respect from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.”

Commander Cameron Knauerhaze, serving as MC, provided the welcoming remarks, introducing Chaplain Benoun to share the invocation, followed by the presentation of the colors by the Westminster Police Honor Guard, enhanced by music from a bagpiper. City Manager Eddie Manfro shared Ornelas’ background.

“Ralph Ornelas started his career with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in 1979, then held assignments at Men’s Central Jail, Carson Station and Recruit Training Bureau. In 1992, he was promoted to sergeant, serving in Lakewood Station, and Recruitment Unit.

“Promoting to Lieutenant in 2,000, he worked Lennox Station, Operation Safe Streets Bureau (gang unit), Detective Division, where he served as the chief’s aide. He worked with the FBI in El Salvador and Mexico on various gang and drug initiatives.

“In 2009, he was promoted to captain, commanding the Narcotics Bureau, then Men’s Central Jail. Getting promoted to commander in 2013, he oversaw four jail facilities in Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic and, later, Twin Towers and Century Regional Detention Center. Ornelas worked with county council on litigation issues related to lawsuits and developing correction action plans.

“Ornelas is a 36-year veteran of LASD and retired in 2016. He currently teaches middle management courses for POST on leadership and ethics and helped start a lacrosse program in the Compton/Willowbrook area of Los Angeles. “

Ralph Ornelas holds an Associate Degree in criminal justice from Farmingdale University and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from C.W. Post College.

Judge Lori Ann Fournier, a friend of Ornelas, led the swearing in ceremony and oath, after which Ornelas addressed the audience and his wife Susan and their children.

“My motto is ‘Never hesitate to give’,” said Ornelas. “My Uncle Gabriel, who was with LAPD for 32 years, was my mentor, giving me guidance and strength. He told me to be a success, I needed to remember to always be a great public servant.”

He thanked his new staff for their dedication and professionalism, then praised the Explorer program, the volunteerism of officers as basketball coaches at the Boys and Girls Club and the department’s work with local elementary schools.

“This is a challenging and tough job; that’s why we signed on and why we wear this uniform. I promise four things that I demand of myself: strength to do right things; honor to badge and city; courage not to take the easy path; and commitment to the latest training.”

Ornelas closed by expressing thanks to the city for placing trust in him, to the women and men of the Westminster Police Department for their commitment to the work they do, to the community for the warm welcome. Finally, he said, “God bless all who serve and wear the badge.”

In a special effort by the department, a photo of his Uncle Gabriel was placed on a chair in the front row so Ornelas could see it while he took the oath.

More than 300 people assembled on March 29 for the chief’s swearing-in ceremony. Those present included the Westminster City Council,  including Mayor Tri Ta, Mayor Pro Tem Tyler Diep, and council members Kimberly Ho, Sergio Contreras and Margie L. Rice, along with City Manager Eddie Manfro.

Music was provided by La Quinta High School students. Special guests included representatives from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Sandra Hutchens, and officers from surrounding communities.