The Hialeah Police Department has promoted 14 of its officers.
During the ceremony, which was held Tuesday night, Chief of Police Sergio Velazquez, congratulated those sworn into their new ranks. He also welcomed and congratulated three new hires.
“I congratulate all of them... because they’ve demonstrated their ability to lead,” Velazquez said. “They will serve as positive role models and mentors to the new officers and to those who fall under their respective ranks.”
The highest ranking officer promoted was Major Manuel Rodriguez, who took over as head of the department’s Patrol Unit. He replaces Major Raleigh Flowers, who retired in January after 19 years of service in that department.
Three other officers were promoted to commander posts:
▪ Ernesto Gutierrez is now in charge of the Crime Suppression Unit. The CST manages undercover agents who arrange special operations to combat crime in Hialeah.
▪ Orlando Salvat, police instructor and former member of the SWAT team in Hialeah, now leads security efforts in Hialeah’s police sector V, which comprises the neighborhoods west of the Palmetto Expressway. Salvat replaces Commander Mauricio Escarra, who is retiring after 22 years of service.
▪ Fernando Villa is in charge of police sector I. Villa replaces Commander Oscar Feint who retired after three decades of service.
The officers promoted to lieutenants were Antonio Luis and Giovanni Fuente, who will now work as supervisors on street patrol.
The list of eight officers promoted to sergeants includes Rei Carvajal, Luis Alvarez, Michael Bendamio, Benny Merino, Jorge Rodriguez, David Morales, Freddy Batista and Carl Zogby. Zogby serves as Velazquez’s executive assistant and chief spokesman for the police department.
Ernesto Del Valle and Carlos Gabriel Velladares were sworn in as police officers. Leonel Jose Cobo was also sworn in as part of the volunteer Police Reserve.
Hialeah has five police sectors. Sectors 2, 3 y 4 remain under the supervision of Commander Rodolfo Bello, Gabriel González and Luis Lahera, respectively.
Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez said the new appointments ensures the implementation of a proactive crime-fighting philosophy.
“I am confident that these officers who are being promoted will perform excellent work in our community,” Hernandez said. “This will allow our police force to reduce crime in our city [...] always looking for better ways to be more efficient.”
Follow Enrique Flor on Twitter @kikeflor.