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Local News

Santa Maria Police Department Adds 10 New Officers

Diverse class includes recruits with strong families ties to law enforcement

Nicholas Giese has joined the family business, following in the footsteps of his parents, sister and grandfather to pin on the law enforcement badge.

Giese is among 10 recent graduates of the Allan Hancock College Law Enforcement Academy to be sworn-in Monday as Santa Maria Police Department’s newest officers.

The newcomer follows his mom, Maria, who retired from the agency in 2008 as a detective. His dad, John Giese is a chief deputy with San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, where an uncle also works. Sister Christina Marshall is a Santa Barbara Police Department officer.

“We’re very proud of Nicholas,” John Giese said, noting his son’s status as a third-generation member in law enforcement.

While proud of the family’s newest officer, Nicholas’s mom admitted to having some nerves.

“Now I know how my parents felt,” said Maria Giese, who spent 17 years with Santa Maria and 12 with the Grover Beach Police Department. “Now he tells me, ‘I’ll be fine mom.’”

As parents and law enforcement members, they didn’t encourage or discourage a career choice for their son, a 2010 graduate of Righetti High School.

New officer Nicholas Giese watches as his mom, Maria Giese, who retired as a detective with the Santa Maria Police Department, pins on his new badge. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The group that was sworn-in Monday in Shepard Hall of the Santa Maria Public Library joins nine others who became part of the department this summer and are some of largest additions to the department in recent history, Chief Ralph Martin said. 

In the past 20 years, the agency had hired four to six new officers annually and hit a high of 12 in 2007. But the number of new officers stalled as the economy failed and public funding became tight.

The hiring pace picked up as part of the chief’s efforts to rebuild the department. In the past 24 months, the department has added 46 new officers. 

“I want the residents of Santa Maria to know that the Measure U is being very effective,” he said of the quarter-cent sales tax hike. “It’s being utilized for public safety and I think you’ll see this in the young men and women we have sitting before you right now.”

Family and friends of the 10 new officers watched the swearing-in ceremony along with local officials and veteran members of the department.

“These are the peacemakers,” Martin said. “That’s truly what they are.”

Approximately 850 people applied for the vacancies, the chief said.

“I can attest these new officers are absolutely a very, very select group,” Martin said.

Martin noted the diverse class of eight men and two women joining the department. Six of the newcomers have bachelor’s degrees and several graduated from local high schools. A couple of them are third-generation law enforcement members. Some of them are multilingual. 

One is a former space operator who spent eight years in the military including at Vandenberg Air Force Base plus Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., along with a stint in Afghanistan. Another is a former U.S. Marine who also worked as an emergency medical technician.

And one is a month away from turning 21 years old — he will have to remain in the car if his training officer needs to do a bar check, the chief noted.

In addition to Giese, other new officers are Matthew Boland, Rafael Carrasco, Erik Hesch, Daniel Martinez, Dena Salas, Monique Sandoval, Anthony Vargas. Nickolas Barton, and Ruben Peinado.

Mayor Pro-Tem Jack Boysen, Councilwoman Terri Zuniga, City Manager Rick Haydon and Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley were on hand for the ceremony.

“It’s such a great day for the citizens of the city of Santa Maria to have increased our Santa Maria police officers by tenfold,” Boysen said.

He congratulated the elite group for making it through the rigorous application process and academy training.

“There’s no higher priority on the Santa Maria City Council than keeping our city safe,” Boysen said. “The one thing I want to promise to all the family and friends of these folks that are up here, these brave men and women, is the City of Santa Maria will do everything that we possibly can to ensure their safety as well.”

One of the new officers went through the academy twice after failing a marksmanship segment the first time. Sandoval, a Pioneer Valley High School graduate, persevered and practiced when given a second chance to successfully complete the marksmanship class and graduate from the academy.

“Never give up,” she said. “I didn’t.”

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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