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Costa Mesa’s new police chief

    COSTA MESA, California, July 11—Tom Gazsi was selected as the new Costa Mesa police chief during a brief ceremony at the Emergency Operations Center at the Costa Mesa Police Department Headquarters. He will start in about a month, pending a background check and physical exam (which was not done during the months of the process of selecting a new police chief).

    Gazsi stated that while “it is premature to identify particular areas”, the police “will be looking for other possibilities for outsourcing that seem to be prudent.”

    Gazsi is a 32-year veteran of the Newport Beach Police Department.

    “The Costa Mesa Police Department is a great organization with a strong reputation across the region for providing exceptional services—even during some challenging times,” Gazsi said. “I’m excited to join the team and provide leadership in the future. I’ve lived all my life in the Newport-Mesa community, and I can’t think of a better place to continue my career.”

    Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer said “We are very excited to have a person with 32 years of police experience who was born and riased here in Costa Mesa to become our chief.”

    Council Member Eric Bever praised Gazsi’s “strong experience” and pointed out that as a long time resident he was “invested in the community.”

    Council Member Steve Mensinger said he has known Gazsi for years and praised his “utmost integrity.”

    Council Member Wendy Leece called Gazsi “a great fit who will continue to keep us safe.”

    Mayor Gary Monahan did not attend the introduction of the new chief of police.

    Costa Mesa CEO Tom Hatch said, “He’s smart, a bright guy, hard working, and a natural collaborator. He does have my full support. Tom is a perfect fit for our community. His reputation in law enforcement is stellar, and he has the depth of knowledge of Costa Mesa that comes from being a lifelong resident.”

    Hatch said the final criteria were, “a broad knowledge of police operations, integrity aand ethics, being a chief and advocate for the department, being able to work with the department, city hall, and the community to develop mission vision and value through collaboration, and interpersonal and communications skills.”

    “Character drives the decision,” Hatch said. “He’s knee-deep in the community, and it’s all about that.”

    “Captain Gazsi’s accomplishments are too numerous to mention, but I assure you that the employees of the CMPD and the citizens of Costa Mesa have no idea how fortunate they are to be getting a chief like Tom Gazsi,” stated Newport Beach Police Chief Jay Johnson. “I think he is just the right person at the right time to lead the CMPD for the next several years. Although he will be greatly missed in Newport Beach, we are very optimistic his selection will only further improve the close working relationship the NBPD shares with the CMPD. Speaking as his boss and for out organization, we could not be more proud of Tom and wish him and the CMPD all the best.”

    “Tom Gazsi is a professional, smart, thoughtful captain who has served Newport Beach and our P.D. very well,” said Newport Beach City Manager Dave Kiff. “He has the quiet strength that all good leaders have. I expected someday that we’d lose Tom, because he’s clearly chief material. If we have to lose him, I am very thankful that he’ll be next door in Costa Mesa, given how closely our two cities lwork together on public safety issues. Tom Hatch made a great selection.”

    “I could not be more privileged or honored to be the next chief,” Gazsi claimed.

    Gazsi will be paid $206,700 a year.

    Gazsi replaces former Police Chief Christopher Shawkey, who resigned in March, after Daily Pilot allegations that Shawkey filed official expense reports for personal trips to Arizona. The Costa Mesa Police Department’s interim chiefs have been Costa Mesa Capt. Les Gogerty, former La Habra Police Chief Steve Staveley, and former La Habra Chief Dennis Kies. Kies continues as interim chief until Gazsi takes over in August.

    Hatch choose Gazsi from 60 original applicants.

    Gazsi attended Woodland and Mariners Elementary, Ensign Intermediate, and Newport Harbor High Schools. He went on Orange Coast College and the University of Southern California’s School of Public Policy and Management.

    He started as a Newport Beach police cadet in 1979, served as a reserve officer from 1980 to 1985, and became a fulltime officer in 1985. Among his assigments were beat coordinator, field training officer, accident investigator, traffic education officer, Patgrol Crime Suppression Unit, R.A.C.E.S. coordinator, chaplain coordinator, Trauma Support Team memeber, and burglary detective.

    As a police sergeant (starting in 1998) he worked the Patrol Division. As a detective sergeant he worked the Crimes Against Persons Section, which investigates robberies, homocides, domestic assaults, and economic crimes.

    As a police lieutenant (starting in 2001), Gazsi was assigned as patrol watch commander, jail manager, Equipment Working Group coordinator, disaster preparedness coordinator, department liason with the John Wayne Airport, Terrorism Early Warning Group coordinator, Traffic Services commander, executive officer in the Office of the Chief, and as the Support Services Commander.

    As a police captain (starting in 2007) he served as the Support Services Division Commander (his current position).

    Gazsi became an ordained minister in 2004 and serves as an elder for the OC Harvest Church in Irvine.

    He has been married to his wife Kimberly for 19 years and they have three daughters: Kayla 18, Kesli 16, and Kathryn 9.


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