Council Chooses Ramirez To Replace Burns As Barstow Police Chief

(November 23)   BARSTOW—The city council and city manager Curt Mitchell have tapped lieutenant Albert Ramirez to succeed Dianne Burns as Barstow police chief.
Since late June, Ramirez has served in the capacity of acting police chief. He was elevated to that position upon Burn’s decision to retire, just three days before her five-year contract as chief was to expire and the city council was weighing whether to renew it.
The council in this instance chose to appoint a police chief from within the department rather than carrying out a recruitment drive and considering officers from outside departments, as had been the case with Burns’ hiring in 2007.
Burns, who had a law degree and had risen to the post of lieutenant with the Los Angeles Police Department where she headed a gang suppression unit, was the first woman to head a police department in San Bernardino County history. She drew praise from many quarters, the county grand jury among them, for her work in Barstow, which included establishing a shooting and tactical training school just outside of Hinkley and mandating that officers take target practice at least once every two months; her rewriting of the department’s policies and procedures manual, which had not been updated since 1983; and her authorship of an until-then non-existent internal affairs manual for the department.
Nevertheless, within the department, she was in some measure distrusted as an outsider. Her formalized, big city approach was deemed by some as inappropriate for a desert city with a population of less than 23,000.  Last February, the Barstow Police Officers Association, rep-resenting 30 officers, corporals and detectives, and the Barstow Police Management Association, representing six sergeants and lieutenants, provided a vote of “no confidence” in Burns’ ability to continue to lead the department, charging her with “poor performance [and] extreme favoritism,” as well as a “hostile work environment” along with “severe instability in her emotions while in an official capacity.”
Ramirez began his career in law enforcement with  Barstow’s police department on Jan. 7, 1991. He has served in nearly every capacity within the department, including detention, booking, patrol, evidence, and  investigations. On December 16, 2000, Ramirez was ambushed by John Salsbury while  responding to the scene of Salsbury’s murder of his neighbor,  Ronald Schraff.  Salsbury was convicted of murder and Ramirez was able to eventually return to the police force, despite having been shot in both legs.
Upon the retirement of former lieutenant Rudy Alcantara in July 2007, Ramirez was promoted from the rank of sergeant to lieutenant by Burns in one of her first major acts as police chief.
Mayor pro-tem Julie Hackbarth-McIntyre, who will become mayor next month, hailed Ramirez’s selection as the right one for the city, given how he has “led, served and protected our community for many years.”
Upon being sworn in as police chief on November 19, Ramirez told the city council, “My vision for the Barstow Police Department is to set a standard of excellence in public safety by coming together in a partnership with the citizens of Barstow to solve community issues.”

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