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El Centro appoints new Fire Chief, Community Development Director, and Chief of Police


EL CENTRO, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - The City of El Centro City Council held a meeting on Tuesday, November 1, 2022 to approve three new appointees.

Joseph Bernal

Firstly, the Council appointed Joseph Bernal as the new Fire Chief.

A native to El Centro, Bernal began his career as a Firefighter for the El Centro Fire Department (ECFD) in August of 2001.

Then, he became Fire Engineer in 2007 and Fire Captain in 2014.

In addition, he served as Acting Battalion Chief in 2019 which earned him a permanent promotion in May 2020.

“I would not be in the position I find myself in today without the dedication and commitment of past and present El Centro Fire Department members who helped shape me into the person I am today. My goal as Fire Chief is to lead a progressive, forward-thinking department that is in touch with the needs and expectations of the community we serve,” states Bernal.

Angel Hernandez

Secondly, the Council appointed Angel Hernandez as the new Community Development Director.

Also a native to El Centro, Hernandez volunteered as a Planning Intern at the City of El Centro in 2010.

After that, Hernandez began his actual career as the Assistant Planner for the City of El Centro in 2014.

Then, he worked his way up to Associate Planner in 2018.

Finally, he had served as the interim Director of the Community Development Department since January 2022.

“With this new responsibility, I look forward to working with the department staff in efficaciously meet the needs of the public and ensure that residents are proud to call El Centro home,” Hernandez spoke.

Robert Sawyer

Lastly, the Council named Robert Sawyer as the new Chief of Police for the El Centro Police Department (ECPD).

Another native to El Centro, Sawyer started his career in law enforcement as a patrol officer in 1998.

As a police officer, he served as a field-training officer and worked as a task force officer with the DEA.

In 2018, Sawyer worked for the Brawley Police Department as the Chief before returning to El Centro two years later.

Since then, Sawyer served as the Deputy Chief of ECPD, overseeing both operations and administration.

“I am honored by City Manager, Marcela Piedra, and our City Council’s confidence to be selected as the Chief of Police. It is my privilege to work alongside the men and women of the El Centro Police Department and to serve our community with dignity and pride,” said Sawyer.

Word from the Council and El Centro Mayor

Once the Council made their final decision, the City Manager, Marcela Piedra, gave her thoughts on the appointment:

“The recruitment process for the Fire Chief, Director of Community Development, and Chief of Police was highly competitive and it gives me tremendous joy to have selected Joseph Bernal, Angel Hernandez, and Robert Sawyer. They not only have the best interest of the El Centro community in mind, but their employees as well. They are committed and dedicated to public service and will do an outstanding job in their new roles,”

Not only that, the Mayor of El Centro, Tomas Oliva, gave his seal of approval saying:

"...their success will mean a better quality of life for the residents of El Centro."

Article Topic Follows: Imperial County
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Dillon Fuhrman

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