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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 5:59 am | Fair 43º


Guadalupe’s New Public Safety Director Takes Oath of Office

Michael Cash to begin job overseeing police and fire departments on Wednesday

Guadalupe Public Safety Director Michael Cash. Click to view larger
Guadalupe Public Safety Director Michael Cash was welcomed by Police Explorers after his swearing-in ceremony Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Calling Michael Cash “the best qualified candidate” and “a strong leader,”  Guadalupe City Council members finalized the hiring of the controversial public safety director on Tuesday night, minutes before his swearing-in ceremony in front a crowd of local residents and law enforcement members.

Cash, 57, will begin his new job on Wednesday, overseeing the small city’s police and fire departments after the retirement of Gary Hoving, who worked for Guadalupe for more than five  years. 

The new chief arrives in Guadalupe after nearly six years leading the Southwestern College police force in Chula Vista, where he twice was place on paid administrative leave, the Southwestern College Sun reported.

But the City Council shrugged off the reports, claiming they came from “opinionated news articles” and maintaining they thoroughly vetted Cash’s background.

“He has a goal of fitting into this community. His law enforcement background I think is stellar. There’s some glitches with everybody’s life, mine included and everybody else’s here. I think he has proven his capability of a leader,” Mayor Pro-Tem Ariston Julian said. 

Cash’s career included the discharge of his firearm at head level into a nearby room with three people who escaped injuries, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Other allegations included hiring friends to work in the department for unbudgeted positions, and failure to keep track of crime statistics, The Southern College Sun said.

Prior to working for the college, Cash previously was employed by the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Chargers and NFL. 

In 1989, the Los Angeles Times reported that Cash was suspended four days from the San Diego police force for excessive force after punching a suspect in the face although a colleague had the man in a chokehold..

“To think that Mr. Cash was not questioned about those really does irk me because I am a little bit more smarter than that,”  Councilwoman Gina Rubalcaba said. “Mr. Cash interviewed very well, and he also was able to give us the explanations for the things people are concerned about.”

“I hope everybody gives him the opportunity to get to know him and see what he could do for the community,” Councilwoman Virginia Ponce said. “My dad used to say, don’t say anything if you can’t say anything nice, so maybe you should start doing that. And that includes the press. I’m going to be gone in two months so I’ll just say that.”

Guadalupe Police Explorers and offices join with new Public Safety Director Michael Cash to pose for a picture. Click to view larger
Guadalupe Police Explorers and offices join with new Public Safety Director Michael Cash to pose for a picture Tuesday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The two-year employment agreement calls for an annual salary of $104,300, along with benefits that match other employees. He also will be paid $5,000 for moving expenses and will receive use of a vehicle.

If the contract is terminated early, Cash will receive severance pay equal to four months of salary.

Several Police Explorers, officers, firefighters, friends and family members were on hand for the swearing-in ceremony, when Cash spoke about his new job.

“This is an awesome opportunity,” Cash said. “I want to be part of this community. That is something that is huge.”

In response to critical comments by resident Jeannie Mello questioning Cash’s hiring, he said, “That is what drives me. I hope I get to see you out there whether you say ‘Hi’ or “Bye” or whatever. You’re going to make me work that much harder. You’re going to make me put myself more into the community.”

Cash dodged answering questions about his checkered career, chalking most of them up to unproven allegations and saying he did not want to provide sound bites Tuesday night that could be misconstrued.

“I’m going to be an open book,” he said. 

He confirmed his firearm discharged, but explained it as an accident.

“With that being said, then you also have to look at what does that person do for a living? Does accidents happen in the farm industry? Does accidents happen in the newsroom? Does accidents happen in a police department? Does accidents happen in a fire department? 

“You’ve got to look at the context of what something happened. From someone who was not involved or does not utilize a weapon, yeah that’s scary and so you should answer for that.”

He denied financial mismanagement allegations, saying The Southern College Sun quoted a finance official saying no mismanagement occurred. A later story said he hired friends although the department had "no openings, no budget and no job descriptions for the hirees."

"I think you need to look at the totality and the whole aspect of what's being written so we get away from the allegation and say did this really happen?"

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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