Police chief has big plans
RIALTO: The new boss wants to step up recruitment to rebuild the city's department.
10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 23, 2006
RIALTO - The man chosen to rebuild the city's Police Department began his first week on the job Monday with a goal of stepping up Rialto's recruitment program.
Chief Mark Kling, former head of the Baldwin Park Police Department, has spent his time meeting with officials, officers and interim Chief Frank Scialdone to get acquainted with programs and top issues.
Feedback from supervisors made it clear recruitment is the department's paramount issue so it will get immediate attention, Kling said.
"We are going to fire up the recruitment machine and start getting qualified officers," Kling said.
The department staff is down 25 percent, Scialdone said.
At full staff, the department has 115 officers. There currently are 88, Scialdone said.
To get prospective officers to the interview and background stage quicker, Scialdone said he has worked with human resources to cut the process down three to four months.
In the past, applications from officers working for other departments were held until there were 30 to process them all at once.
"Now, as soon as an officer from another department applies, the application is processed immediately," Scialdone said.
Kling said he agrees applications shouldn't be held and will meet with human resources this week to see if there are any other ways to expedite the process.
"A lot of Chief Scialdone's ideas ... will continue because I believe in the processes that he has started," Kling said.
The efforts made at Rialto's East Jackson Street and Willow-Winchester area have been good, Kling said.
East Jackson Street was the setting of high-profile raids in March that focused on crime and living conditions in apartment buildings.
The Willow-Winchester area also was plagued with crime and poor living conditions. It is now part of a $38 million project that will rehabilitate condominiums and offer social programs to residents.
As chief, Kling said he will work to continue those good efforts.
Getting to know officers' expectations of him also is important, Kling said, so he'll meet with small groups in the coming week.
Scialdone, whose last day was Wednesday, said he will be pushing Kling toward community policing, which encourages city officials, social service providers and the community to work with police to prevent crime.
Lt. Joe Cirilo, who has been with the department 27 years, said he believes Kling is going to bring the organization focus and direction.
"He comes with a lot of energy and excitement, and that is transcending to the organization because we see a leader who is ready to take this department on ... and elevate the standard to make us a premier organization once again," Cirilo said.
Rialto's new top cop helped rebuild the Baldwin Park Police Department when he was appointed chief there in April 2001, officials there said.
The year before, the Baldwin Park City Council was looking at disbanding the city's department and contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
The council narrowly voted to keep the department despite recruitment problems and a lack of unity.
Today, the experience of getting Baldwin Park to that point will help in Rialto, Kling said.
Cirilo said the renovation of the Baldwin Park Police Department is a good indication of what will happen in Rialto's department.
"The city of Baldwin Park was under similar conditions and (Kling) took an organization that nobody had any hope in and he turned it around," Cirilo said.
"He said he would bring that same effect here ... and we look forward to the challenges that face us and we look forward to working with him."
Reach Massiel Ladrón De Guevara at 909-806-3054 or mdeguevara@PE.com
I hope that Chief Mark Kling will do the same work that he did in Baldwin Park here in Rialto Police Department. They hired him for his organizations skills. I do have reservations however, upon the fact that Baldwin Park Police department had a Chief in Place Before Kling took the Job At Rialto Police Department. They were doing the final Paperwork for him, but he was all set and they were not going to hire from outside their department, Which is a much better Idea then going outside the agency like the city Council of Rialto insists upon doing every time they want to find a chief for Rialto PD? IT puzzles me. I am sorry!! I really hope that they have someone that has the Inland Empire Figured out like Scaldone does!! Scaldone is very much in tune with the Inland Empire, and Knows what is needed to run a successful Police Agency. If Kling can do that he is in and has my confidence.