WATERFORD — Stanislaus County sheriffs Lt. Robert Hunt was named Tuesday the interim chief of police services in Waterford, about three weeks after the City Council voted in closed session to make a change in the management position.
A sheriffs office news release said the department was reassigning Lt. Darin Gharat, who has split his time as chief of Waterford and Hughson. A department spokesman said Gharat will now be the chief only for Hughson.
Waterford and Hughson had shared a chief under the cities contracts with the Sheriffs Department.
We decided we needed a change for Waterford, a different chief, Mayor Charlie Goeken said Tuesday. Hughson still was happy with having Darin for their chief, and we asked the Sheriffs Department for a new chief. We felt it was time to move on, and we needed an interim chief.
The mayor said sheriffs lieutenants will be invited to apply for the permanent position in January.
Goeken would not discuss details of why city leaders were unhappy with Gharat. He said the council decided to make the change on a 4-0 vote at its Nov. 7 meeting.
In September, more than 75 people packed a Waterford council meeting to air complaints about response times and other law enforcement issues.
Gharat did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. A 2011 agreement approved by county supervisors specified that Gharat spend one-third of his time with Sheriffs Department duties and two-thirds with Hughson and Waterford. The two cities decided to share a chief after new sheriffs service contracts required that cities assume more responsibility for management salaries.
Goeken said Waterford has seen an increase in crime, which he believes is related to the states realignment of public safety. The statewide shift has resulted in lower-level criminal offenders no longer being sent to state prisons.
The city wants the new chief to fight crime in general and also provide good customer service and investigations, said Goeken, a captain for the Manteca Police Department.
Hunt is a 28-year veteran of the sheriffs office and was promoted to lieutenant July 27. His work for the Sheriffs Department has included investigations, patrol operations and extensive experience in narcotics enforcement with the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency. Until getting the Waterford job, he had been commander of the sheriffs civil division.
Sheriff Adam Christianson will introduce Hunt at the Waterford City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5. The interim chief will hold a community forum Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. at Waterford City Hall.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.