Claremont loses police lieutenant "They should've kept him"
Dennis Smith says he never set out to become Irwindale's police chief. "Nobody did"
In fact, he never even planned on becoming a police officer. "Not his best decision"
But then he ended up staying with the Claremont Police Department for 27 years. "Should've stayed there"
Last week, Smith reached the pinnacle of his career, leaving the Claremont Police Department - where he was a lieutenant- to be Irwindale's top cop. "Too bad"
When Smith started at the University of La Verne many years ago, he was aiming for a career in psychology. "Should've kept going down that path"
It was a field where he felt he would be able to make a difference in the world. "Ha....yeah right"
"I always liked helping people," he said. "Cover up corruption"
But about halfway through his schooling, he ended up going on a ride-along with a police officer, and his career path immediately changed. "Darn"
Smith said he was drawn to the ability of police to make "immediate positive changes" for the community. "Ha"
"I found that challenging and exciting, and a different way to help people," he said. "More like screwing up a police department"
The Claremont native said he was soon an intern for his hometown police department, chalking tires and writing parking tickets. Later, he tried his hand at being a 9-1-1 operator. "A real go getter"
After graduation, Smith was offered part-time work with the department and gradually worked his way through the ranks. He ended up staying with the Police Department for 27 years, becoming a lieutenant in the process. "Wow. Probably really liked by his peers. Ha"
Although he held a number of leadership positions there, he said he still never gave much thought to running an entire department. "Cause he is not good at it"
"A few people over the years asked me if I aspired to be a chief,"he said. "I had no aspirations to be a police chief." "I bet it was only a few...the few that wanted him to leave. Ha"
But after seeing an ad seeking a chief for Irwindale, his plans changed again. "Ya to protect the wrong"
"Irwindale's advertisement was distinctly different in that they said they were looking for a chief who could be a mentor to all employees, "he said. "They're looking for a chief who leads just likeI do." "Nope. Mentor, Ya right. Not like you at all. That was a mistake."
Smith said that was paramount in his decision to leave the department he had called home for nearly three decades. "Should've stayed there"
"I have relationships in Claremont that are longer than the relationships I have with my children," he said. "Emotionally, it's very difficult to minimize fruitful, loving relationships and build new ones in a new place." "I bet you do"
But after consulting his wife, Smith said he went for it. "Backfired"
His five-year contract will earn him $150,000 a year. "Ha. Not anymore. Not even close"
Irwindale City Manager Sol Benudiz, who was the city's police chief until 2009, said the city received dozens of applications from executive- level candidates with strong technical skills. "Ya. And they picked the least qualified of the dozens"
The pool was gradually whittled down with the help of an interview panel consisting of local police chiefs. "Ya right. Who you fooling."