2013-03-15 / Front Page

City welcomes new police chief

DeCesari to transfer after six years at Camarillo station
By Stephanie Guzman

A new police chief will oversee the Camarillo Police Department in April when Cmdr. Steve DeCesari leaves for a command position in Thousand Oaks after serving as Camarillo’s top cop for more than six years.

Cmdr. Guy Stewart with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office will replace DeCesari on April 14, said DeCesari who introduced Stewart to the Camarillo City Council during its regularly scheduled meeting March 13.

Though city council members did not say their official goodbyes to DeCesari during the meeting, DeCesari began his goodbyes saying he will miss the city, his colleagues at the Camarillo station and the community.

“I’m truly going to miss all the people here at the station, including all the volunteers, and the good rapport I have with business leaders, the city manager and city staff,” said DeCesari during a phone interview. “They’ve all been great to work with and it’s been a true highlight for me.”

DeCesari has worked for the sheriff’s office for 36 years. He previously worked at the pre-trial detention jail in Ventura before he took over for then-chief Mike Lewis in 2006 when Lewis left to become the police chief in Simi Valley.

DeCesari hit the ground running and created many community programs, including a senior citizen’s driving class, a teen driving preparedness course and the prescription drug drop-off program, which took in almost one ton of prescription pills last year.

“Camarillo has such a low crime rate, and while we’re not crime free, I really tried to concentrate on the quality of life programs for the citizens,” DeCesari said.

The commander partnered with the Rotary Club for various fundraisers and the Jewish Chabad’s Saving Lives Coalition, a program that aims to reduce drug and alcohol use among local teens. The Oak Park resident also served as a board member of Camarillo’s Boys & Girls Club.

DeCesari said his change in post is typical for contract cities throughout Ventura County as each city’s police chief usually serves four to five year terms.

DeCesari said Sheriff Geoff Dean reassigned him to a Thousand Oaks station to oversee unincorporated areas in Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks and the Santa Rosa Valley.

When Stewart takes DeCesari’s position, he will be in charge of 75 patrol deputies, a traffic bureau, an investigations bureau and a community resource unit.

Stewart, 51, works as a commander at the Ventura County Main Jail where he manages services at the pre-trial detention facility. The Ventura resident recognized the new experiences he will have at the Camarillo station, such as dealing with the public, city officials and being part of a large team.

“The city presents a whole new set of challenges that you don’t experience here in custody,” said Stewart, who has been with the sheriff’s office for 28 years. “But I’m blessed to be coming into the city on the heels of great managers. They’ve established a really great foundation.”

Stewart worked in Camarillo for five years beginning in 2002 and said he’s happy to return to the city that has a low crime rate, a well-planned community and friendly residents. He said he doesn’t have major plans for the station, except to maintain the city’s safety.

“I’m looking to provide services where we see fit because crime trends can be somewhat fluid,” Stewart said. “It’s a matter of working with our resources to make sure we deal with the issues as they come up.

Stewart said DeCesari has plans to introduce him to several community groups. He said he will try to attend as many events and staff meetings during the next month to become familiar with the community.

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