The Calistoga Police Department has welcomed three much-needed new employees, including two police officers, Katie Hutchins of Hidden Valley Lake, and Adrian Herrera-Ortega of Calistoga, and a new part-time dispatcher, Katherine Webster of Napa.
The additions will help fill out the ranks of the department, which has been understaffed by 40 percent for the past year.
Hutchins and Herrera-Ortega were sworn in on Tuesday.
Hutchins is a graduate of Santa Rosa Police Academy. She said, “This is an honor and an amazing opportunity. I love that people here are so active, and out walking their cute dogs.”
Herrera-Ortega is from Calistoga and served in the Marines Corp. He also graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in psychology. Calistogans can frequently see him jogging around town, he said.
Webster is a recent graduate of the Napa Dispatch Academy. Department dispatchers are the “face and voice of the community,” said Police Chief Mitch Celaya, “And we’re thrilled to have her.”
In November, the department also promoted two officers to the position of Police Corporal: Kristine Romo and Nicholas Dellia. Part-time Police Dispatcher Wendy Ramirez-Munoz was promoted to a full-time position.
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Celaya also said the department has made offers to two more potential officers who could be on board soon.
The police department has also updated body cameras for the officers, and is making upgrades to police vehicles by installing computers known as mobile data units. The department also purchased new radar signs to help with speeding, and has formalized an agreement with the St. Helena Police and Fire Departments, Celaya said.
Celaya has also agreed to stay on as chief until December. He initially submitted a letter of intent to retire in 2018, but agreed to stay on until December 2019.
Tobacco education grantThe Calistoga Police Department has also been awarded a Department of Justice Tobacco Grant for $472,600 to fund a School Resource Officer position for 2-1/2 years. The officer will address tobacco and vaping education, prevention, enforcement and related health issues for Calistoga’s youth.
Between 2016 and 2018, among Calistoga youth, there was a decrease in perception that tobacco products cause harmful health issues, from 78% to 58%, Celaya said. Use of the grant will take a multidisciplinary approach with education, training for school and police department staff, and community outreach, including working with the UpValley Family Centers.