WATSONVILLE, Calif. (KION-TV) Jorge Zamora was sworn in on Jan. 10 to be Watsonville’s new Police Chief, becoming the first, first-generation Mexican-American to hold this position.
Zamora served as Acting Assistant Police Chief after Chief David Honda retired in July.
“Through the process, Jorge demonstrated his in-depth knowledge and understanding of our community and his clear vision to support, develop, and lead the police department in future years,” said City Manager Protempore Tamara Vides, who has the final decision in selecting a new police chief after a series of interview panels and recruitment process.
Zamora was born and raised in Watsonville, but growing up in a labor camp, he said his family was near the poverty line. Both his parents came from Michoacán, Mexico and often brought him to help in the fields. But he never thought he would become a police officer.
"I didn't like the police for some portion of my youth, so it was interesting to see how some influences within that neighborhood impacted me," Zamora said.
One of his school teachers introduced him to the cadet program.
"The cadet program itself was huge for me, because the officers here, they mentored me. They guided me," Zamora said. "All I wanted to do was get hired as a police officer."
At 21-years-old Zamora was hired in Watsonville Police Department going from a detective to assistant chief, and now the chief of the department.
"For me, being a police officer is more that just arresting someone and taking them to jail," Zamora said. "It's being a person who understands someone else's struggle, someone else's pain, and really trying to provide something that they my not necessarily have at the time."
He worked his way up the ranks from police cadet to now chief of police.— Watsonville Police (@WatsonvillePD) January 11, 2022
Last night, Jorge Zamora officially became the 16th Chief of Police for the City of Watsonville and the first, first-generation Mexican-American to hold this role. pic.twitter.com/yksKSZ7lvI
In his 25 years of service, Zamora served as patrol, gang and narcotic enforcement, S.W.A.T., detectives, field training officer, hostage negotiations, walking beat, Regional Occupational Program instructor, and youth mentorship.
“My approach to policing is simple: lead with integrity, self-compassion, competency, and courage,” said Zamora. “Do the right things for the right reasons, treat all people with respect and fairness, set high standards for myself and the organization, and be accountable through transparency.”
Zamora graduated from Radcliff Adult School and has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Management from Union Institute & University and a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies from Saint Mary’s College of California.