• School Board President Tapped to run King City Police

    By Marge Ann Jameson

    Tony Sollecito is probably experiencing déjà vu all over again. The current president of the Pacific Grove Unified School District was just brought out of retirement to run the troubled King City Police Department, at least for up to six months. The announcement was made public Monday, Jan. 27.

    In March 2010, we had a conversation with Sollecito as he was called back to run the Seaside Police Department when the chief there was given a retirement offer and left under a cloud, though he was cleared of any wrongdoing.

    “It’s déjà vu,” Sollecito said then.

    Sollecito’s career began in 1970 when, as a high school student, he got a job – funded then by a grant – as a cadet with the Seaside Police Department. He worked with Monterey County Communication Center as a dispatcher for Seaside, then got a full-time position with Salinas, followed by Huntington Beach. He eventually became chief of police in Seaside and retired from there.

    Sollecito says he and his family bought their home in the Pacific Grove school district 13 years ago because he was so impressed with Pacific Grove schools. He has served on the school board for a number of years, and is currently school board president with the term expiring in December, 2015. He did not step down when acting as interim chief in Seaside, and District officials report that he has no intention of stepping down now.

    Tony Sollecito at his former desk at Seaside PD

    Tony Sollecito at his former desk at Seaside PD

    But he has his work cut out for him.

    King City’s Police Department is in tatters. In February, 2014 the retired chief, the acting police chief and his brother, and four police officers were arrested. Three are charged in connection with an alleged car-towing scheme in which poor Mexican immigrants were targeted. Their cars were impounded and when they could not pay, the cars were sold and some were kept by the officers. That trial is set to begin next week. Eight police officers are under investigation out of the small force.

    The City approved a mutual policing contract with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office to provide nighttime patrols to the city of 13,000.

    The Sheriff’s Department is working on a proposal to provide services on a more permanent basis. A spokesman for the sheriff’s office estimates that the city could need 10 to 12 permanent deputies depending on what services the citizens expect their police force to provide.

    It has been suggested that, should the Sheriff’s Department take over policing needs for King City, current employees be encouraged to apply with the county force. But there are no guarantees they would be hired.

    As recently as last week, a proposal to share a police chief with nearby Greenfield was turned down by Greenfield citizens and their City Council. No conclusions were drawn when King city held a public forum on the matter and a second forum to discuss the future of law enforcement in King City is set for Sun., Feb. 8.

    Addressing the public when the announcement of his appointment, Sollecito expressed the need to rebuild trust and credibility between the community and the police department.

    posted to Cedar Street Times on January 27, 2015

    Topics: Front PG News

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