LONG BEACH - The Long Beach Police Department on Thursday celebrated its largest promotion ceremony in recent history, recognizing 18 sworn and civilian employees who have risen through the ranks.
Friends, family and co-workers packed City Council chambers to standing-room-only capacity as Chief Jim McDonnell presented each promoted employee with a new badge and a hearty handshake.
"You're looking at 303 years of experience with the Long Beach Police Department," the chief told the crowd.
Badges were pinned with the help of babies, spouses, parents and patrol partners. Some family members were more willing than others, as Sgt. Herbert Smith's 2-year-old son Jack latched onto a brass handrail, none too pleased with the massive crowd and bright lights.
"Herbert's excited about being a sergeant, his son not so much," McDonnell said.
The chief thanked the newly promoted staff members, and their families, for the time they have given to the department and the community and their many sacrifices, most of which are never acknowledged publicly.
He also noted that the promotions, which have been questioned by some given the shrinking ranks and budget constraints, are necessary for the department's future.
"There are those who believe that we should not be replacing those leaving our supervisory and managerial ranks," McDonnell said. "Those are people, I believe, who don't realize the importance of first-line supervision ... especially during extremely volatile circumstances."
The newly promoted sworn officers are: Cmdr. Alexander Avila, Cmdr. Richard Farfan, Cmdr. Robert Smith, Lt. Kevin Coy, Lt. Kerry Giesige, Lt. Leslie Soto, Sgt. James Foster, Sgt. Brian McPhail, Sgt. Herbert Smith and Sgt. Steven Vanden Bosch.
The department's two new jail administrators are Edgar Ivora and Rollie Seebert and Special Services Officer Lucio Murillo was promoted to a higher ranking.
Julie Bedard was promoted to executive assistant to the chief of police, while Laura Sansenback was elevated to communications center supervisor.
Valerie Brown is now the LBPD's payroll supervisor, while Helena Horsley has become senior records clerk and Rita de Luna is now ranked a clerk-typist IV.