POMONA — The interim police chief selected to replace Don Burnett, who recently resigned to become chief in San Bernardino, says the resignation has not adversely affected morale in the department and that he is planning no major management changes.
Richard M. Tefank, a captain who was named interim chief on Monday, said morale is "excellent" despite discussion in recent months about whether to disband the department and contract with the county to save money. He said he will work to "continue to provide a high level of quality service."
Although one council member speculated that Burnett resigned because he was insulted by the idea of having the county assume police services in Pomona, Burnett said the move was merely a wise career choice, permitting him to run a larger department and receive a slightly higher salary. Burnett began his new job Monday. If the county did assume the police services, an option that now seems unlikely, the job of police chief would be abolished.
Tefank, 40, was among three captains within the department considered for the interim post by Pomona City Administrator Ora Lampman.
Tefank said he is interested in applying for the permanent job provided that the city does not exercise the contracting option. City officials said they have not yet determined when they will begin to search for a permanent police chief.
Although he said he believed Pomona's police service is good, Tefank said he would direct any additional resources toward combating street crime, especially the sale of narcotics.
Last October, the police department asked the City Council for $1 million to fight the narcotics problem. In a presentation to the council, narcotics officers outlined seven areas in the city where they said drugs are bartered openly. In many cases, they said, customers were provided with "curb service," obtaining drugs without having to step out of their cars. Officers said they observed stolen property being exchanged for drugs through car windows.
Tefank said the proposal may come up again as the department sets budgeting priorities for the coming fiscal year, but that because the entire city budget is strained he would "utilize the resources we have to combat that particular problem."
Tefank joined the Pomona Police Department in 1972 as a patrol officer. Through a steady chain of promotions, he eventually became a captain. As a lieutenant, a rank he achieved in 1970, he played a significant role in implementing a burglary intervention program that required cooperation of several agencies, including the Pomona Unified School District, the district attorney's office and the Probation Department. The program sought to attack the problem of burglary by dealing directly with youths considered to be largely responsible for the crimes. By 1984, largely as a result of the program, 14% drop in burglaries was reported.