Galen Carroll says he likes a challenge and he likes diversity, and he's going to find both in Modesto when he officially starts next month as the city police chief.
But Modesto's demographics and issues aren't much different from those facing medium-sized police agencies throughout the state tight budgets, rising crime rates, an occasional rogue officer that embarrasses the force and difficulty in finding qualified people to hire.
And Modesto's department is in better shape than many, thanks to recently retired chief Mike Harden and his interim replacement, Gene Balentine, and to a City Council that has supported public safety philosophically and financially.
In fact, Mayor Garrad Marsh hopes to cultivate community support for more money for police, which has included launching a community conversation about how to improve public safety. So, this could be considered excellent timing to head the Modesto Police Department.
In a brief interview Tuesday morning, Carroll described himself as an advocate of "servant leadership," a philosophy that promotes the well-being of the people rather than an accumulation of power.
At 42, Carroll will be the youngest police chief in recent history in Modesto. Harden and his predecessors, Roy Wasden and Paul Jefferson, were all in their mid-40s when they became chief. Wasden and Jefferson also were new to Modesto. We hope Carroll will emulate Wasden in devoting time to get to know community groups and leaders. Carroll says he intends to do just that.
We also hope Carroll will develop effective working relationships with Sheriff Adam Christianson, District Attorney Birgit Fladager and other law enforcement leaders in the area.
Finally, Carroll said he knows that transparency is essential to building community trust. That's true for all public agencies, but especially law enforcement.
We welcome Carroll to Modesto and wish him the best in this high-profile and critical job.