SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Deputy Chief Bernie Escalante will be serving as Interim Chief of Santa Cruz Police Department starting Oct. 30.
The announcement comes after Chief Andrew Mills resigned last week to move to Palm Springs and be closer to his family.
Escalante grew up in Santa Cruz, went to Santa Cruz High and got his B.A. in Social Science at San Francisco State. He went on to get his Master's of Science degree in Law Enforcement and Public Safety Leadership at the University of San Diego.
Escalante has been working in the department for over 25 years. He started as a community service officer in 1996 before transferring to be a patrol officer. He was promoted to sergeant in 2003 and served as a detective and leader. Escalante was promoted to lieutenant in 2009, managing the Investigations Division and became the Commander of Emergency Service Unit Tactical Team. In February 2020, Escalante was promoted to Deputy Chief.
"My first priorities will be building our staffing and expanding on the trusting community relationships and innovative problem-solving brought to Santa Cruz by Chief Mills," Escalante said. "I am constantly impressed by the dedication and professionalism of our law enforcement team here in Santa Cruz, and I am honored to lead this dynamic department as an Interim Chief.”
Escalante will serve as Interim Chief until a permanent Chief is named, which according to the department, is expected to happen after a permanent City Manager is appointed.