When Chino Police Chief Wes Simmons closes out his active law enforcement career on August 10, he will be succeeded by his deputy chief, Kevin Mensen.
City Manager Linda Reich, in consultation with Simmons and City Councilwoman Karen Comstock, who used to be the city’s police chief, settled on promoting Mensen rather than looking elsewhere by conducting a recruitment or promoting one of the department’s other officers currently serving under Simmons and Mensen.
There is a likelihood that Mensen will remain in place as chief longer than Simmons, who in April, at the age of 50, announced his readiness to retire and set the August 10 date for doing so.
As recently as early this year, many anticipated that Simmons would remain as police chief perhaps until 2030 or slightly beyond. Under legal mandate, he would have been required to retire upon reaching the age of 62, but that would not come until 2035. At 50, however, Simmons became eligible to retire. Having now been a police officer for 28 years, he opted to head off into the sunset. Simmons’ exit perpetuates a trend that has taken hold over the last several decades, in which the police chiefs are remaining in place for fewer years than was generally the case previously.
From the city’s 1910 founding until 1975, the city employed nine police chiefs, with each averaging more than seven years heading the department, including that last of those, Frank Meehan, who remained in place for eight years. The last nine chiefs running through Simmons, however – Jerry Doyle, Jim Anthony, Pat Connelly, Richard Sill, Gene Hernandez, Stan Stewart, Miles Pruitt, Karen Comstock and Simmons – have averaged just five-and-one-third years in the department’s top slot.
During the latter era, James Anthony and Gene Hernandez who served from 1980 to 1992 and 1998 to 2007, respectively, were throwbacks to an earlier time, serving eleven and nine years. Connelly, Sill and Steward averaged just under three years as chief, while Pruitt and Comstock remained in place roughly five years and Simmons is now departing after four.
Given his age of 45, Mensen, who has been with the department since 1997, is purposed to remain as chief at least one year longer than Simmons. Under the California Public Employees Retirement System’s guidelines, Mensen’s pension will not max out until early 2031, at which time he will be eligible to draw 100 percent of what his maximum yearly salary will at that time be or have been.
Mensen will start with an annual salary of right around $202,000. He can expect pay add-ons and perquisites of roughly $90,000 per year and benefits of right around $117,000 per year for a total annual compensation of $409,000.
Since his 1997 hiring, Mensen has worked the department’s patrol, traffic, investigation, and special weapons and tactics details, while working his way up in rank from officer to detective to sergeant to lieutenant to captain and team commander.
Mensen grew up in Ontario, where he attended and graduated from Chaffey High School. He has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from California Coast University. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Virginia.
Prior to Simmons’ retirement announcement, he promoted Mensen to deputy chief, which is universally seen as an internal department recommendation for police chief.
Mensen is married with three children.