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Public Safety

20-Year Veteran Of La Mesa PD Named Chief

La Mesa Police Chief Ray Sweeney is shown in this undated photo.
City of La Mesa
La Mesa Police Chief Ray Sweeney is shown in this undated photo.

Ray Sweeney, a 20-year veteran of the La Mesa Police Department, has been selected to head the agency, city officials announced Thursday.

The appointment, effective immediately, follows a nationwide recruitment search to replace former LMPD Chief Walt Vasquez, who retired last summer, La Mesa City Manager Greg Humora said.

Prior to the promotion, Sweeney served for six years as a captain with the eastern San Diego County law enforcement agency.

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Sweeney, a former member of the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard who was hired by the LMPD in 2001, called his selection as the agency's 12th chief "a huge honor and responsibility."

"I am truly humbled to lead the great men and women of the La Mesa Police Department into the future as we reimagine policing for our community," he said in a prepared statement. "I have been fortunate to build great relationships throughout the community and look forward to forging new relationships in this important role."

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Sweeney will take part in a series of community meetings in the near future to give the citizens he serves a chance to meet him and share their concerns about local crime and law enforcement, according to Humora.

The city manager said locals "will benefit from (Sweeney's) immediate familiarity with our city and Police Department while also leveraging his strong character and clear vision for effective community policing."

La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis said he was confident that Sweeney "understands we must honor the past but also challenge the future by being more inclusive, listening to our residents and making positive changes to our policing practices."

"I have seen Chief Sweeney in difficult situations and in casual community interactions," Arapostathis said in a statement. "He is a consummate professional who represents the best of our police department and community values. Chief Sweeney has my full support, and I look forward to his efforts to advance our police department."

Pending the selection of a new police chief, LMPD Capt. Matt Nicholass took on the post of interim head of the department after Vasquez stepped down Aug. 27.