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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 6:54 am | Fair 53º


Guadalupe City Council Set to Hire Controversial Police Chief

The City of Guadalupe is poised to hire a public safety director candidate who was twice put on leave during his previous job working as police chief for a Chula Vista community college. City leaders say they stand by the choice.

Michael Cash Click to view larger
Michael Cash (City of Guadalupe photo)

The agenda for the upcoming Tuesday night City Council meeting calls for members to authorize the mayor to sign an employment contract with Michael Cash, with a swearing-in ceremony to be held a short time later.

“Amid public concerns, the Guadalupe City Council stands by its selection of Michael Cash as ‘the right fit’ for the community,” the city said in a statement released Friday.

The city cites Cash’s “broad-based and diverse background in public safety” and career serving with the San Diego Police Department, the then-San Diego Chargers football team, Southwestern College in Chula Vista and his work with FEMA.

“Since he was identified as a candidate for the position of director of public dafety, numerous unsolicited letters of support for Mr. Cash have been received by the city from current and former law enforcement community confirming the quality of his character and his commitment to public safety,” the statement said.

Those letters and the names of people who sent them were not released with the statement.

“These letters from individuals who have personal knowledge of Mr. Cash are far more relevant concerning his fitness to serve and provide a solid confirmation of the wisdom of the council’s choice,” City Administrator Cruz Ramos said.

“The City of Guadalupe is looking forward to a new era of community policing and innovative youth programs that Michael Cash will bring to Guadalupe.”

The city was poised to hire Cash two weeks ago, but paused due to ongoing negotiations that will give him a higher salary.

Instead of paying the new public safety director $98,600, the two-year contract now calls for Cash to receive an annual salary of $104,300.

If his contract is terminated by the City Council, Cash would receive severance pay equal to four months of salary, not three as originally proposed.

As first reported by Noozhawk last month, Cash’s career included controversy.

During the council’s Sept. 25 special meeting, some residents spoke out against his hiring.

“Michael Cash has had a very turbulent career regardless of the positions he’s held ... ,” resident Jeannie Mello told the council. “In totality, Michael Cash has had a very unstable and erratic career, a career that would make a wise man pause before hiring him for a prestigious role in a community.

“Either this man is incredibly unlucky or he’s just drawn the short straw over and over and over,” she added. “Just how many jobs does he have to be fired or suspended from for you to realize that Michael Cash will be Guadalupe’s liability, not asset.”

Former Mayor Frances Romero also urged caution.

“Community-oriented policing is more than just a concept,” she said at the meeting. “The community has to believe in the leadership that you put in place.”

During his previous job at Southwestern College, Cash discharged his Glock firearm at head level into an adjacent room where three people were located, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

He claimed the 2013 incident was accidental and denied he had a medical condition that caused the discharge. But he did not explain why his finger was on the trigger and why the shooting occurred at head level.

Cash’s tenure at Southwestern had additional brushes with controversy, including allegations he hired his friends to work for the agency to the tune of $1 million over budget, and a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment before he was placed on paid administrative leave for nearly all of 2017 and ending his employment in December 2017, The Southwestern College Sun reported.

The community college newspaper also claimed Cash had neglected to keep track of crime statistics as required.

Cash also worked for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, but left the team abruptly for unknown reasons. The school newspaper reported he was fired for curfew violations.

In the 1980s while workeding at the San Diego Police Department, Cash received a four-day suspension for use of excessive force after allegedly punching a suspect in the face although a colleague had placed the man in a chokehold, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1989.

The job overseeing Guadalupe’s police and fire departments became vacant when Gary Hoving retired as public safety director. Hoving spent most of his 40-year law enforcement career working for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department where he rose to the rank of chief deputy.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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