Today is the first day on the job for new Glendale police chief Robert Castro.
Castro has been a police officer with the city of Glendora and for the last three years has been serving as that city’s chief of police. He admits that this is not the usual path for law enforcement; usually it is an officer going from a larger department to a smaller, but he was looking for the opportunity to work with a larger organization. That is exactly what Glendale offers him.
“Glendora [covers] 20 square miles with a population of 55,000,” Castro said. Glendale covers 30.6 square miles and, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population is 194,478.
Adjusting to the larger city does not seem to worry the new chief. Glendora’s issues are similar to Glendale’s – just on a different scale, according to Castro.
A few years ago Glendora had a big problem with the illegal use of prescription drugs.
“This wasn’t [known drug users] but middle class money purchasing the drugs,” he said. “No one wanted to talk about the drug problem. Not the school or the community.”
Castro reached out to the school superintendent and to parents.
“We held parent summits twice a year,” he said.
What he discovered was that many parents did not realize how big a problem the drug use had become and how many kids were involved.
Drugs used included performance-enhancement drugs for kids in sports and others for academics.
“We had 4.0 [grade point average] drug dealers,” he said. “Parents didn’t understand the dangers.”
A young man took his own life due to drug use. The parents had no idea he was using or dealing drugs; they also didn’t know he was on a tagging crew or that he had a handgun. Castro had the parents come to the sessions and speak to other parents.
This is similar to what Ron DePompa, the outgoing GPD chief, faced shortly after he took his leadership role. Crescenta Valley had a growing heroin issue at that time and the chief reached out to the community.
Castro added that students are under so much more pressure now than in the past and he works to educate parents and organizations. He is looking forward to bringing this and other programs he had implemented in Glendora including the use of technology.
The Glendora website, which he helped guide, has information on local crime reports the public can easily access. It also allows the public to report crimes online, similar to the recent program started by the city of Glendale.
Castro said he looks forward to meeting the community and will soon be at meetings to introduce himself to local residents.