Sergeant Welter (L) and Sergeant Rico (R)
A major goal of the City of Lakeport and the Lakeport Police Department has been realized with the promotion of Police Officers Victor Rico and Andrew Welter to the rank of Sergeant.
Both Sergeants Rico and Welter were originally recruited in our hiring local campaign which seeks to employ police officer candidates who are already members of and have strong ties to our Lake County community. This hiring program is a collaborative effort between the Lakeport Police Department (LPD) and the City’s Human Resources Department (HR) that has been in place for the last seven years.
Sergeant Rico grew up in Kelseyville and attended school there, graduating from Kelseyville High School in 2008. He attended Mendocino College and Sacramento State University. He worked for the Lake County Sheriff’s Office as a Deputy Sheriff between September 2014 and May 2016 at which time he made a lateral move to the Lakeport Police Department as a police officer. During his five years with our agency he has served in our Supervisor In Training program, as a School Resource Officer, Detective, Firearms, Taser and Less Lethal Device instructor, and Armorer and Drug Abuse Resistance instructor. Sergeant Rico is fluent in both written and spoken English and Spanish languages.
Sergeant Welter was raised in the Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake areas, graduating from Middletown High School in 2011. He attended Santa Rosa Junior College and while attending worked for the Santa Rosa Junior College Police Department. He also worked for Hidden Valley Lake Security Services for five years and was a firefighter for South Lake County Fire Protection District for two years. In March of 2016 he was hired by our agency to attend the police academy and work as a police officer. During his five years with our agency he has served in our Supervisor In Training Program, as a Field Training Officer and was recently assigned and trained as a traffic radar/LiDAR instructor. He was selected as Veterans of Foreign Wars Lakeport Post Police Officer of the Year in 2017.
The national law enforcement hiring crisis becoming progressively worse over the past five years has led to having fewer experienced candidates available to move into critical supervisory roles. Recognizing this as a continuing problem into the future, in early 2019 the LPD and HR developed a Supervisor In Training Program (basically a Sergeant in training) and took a plan to the Lakeport City Council, which immediately agreed to fund it. Over the past two years, four LPD officers went through this training program and became eligible to test for Sergeant.
Given that the Supervisor In Training Program has been successful, the LPD and HR collaborated last fall to develop an extensive assessment center testing process designed to determine if a candidate could function and be successful in the highly complex job of Police Sergeant. The ten-hour assessment center consisted of: Submitting a letter of interest, a resume and new job application, pre-test research and a writing assignment graded by an editor from outside the department, preparing and delivering a group presentation to an evaluating board, counseling an employee related to complex issues in front of an evaluating board, and answering complex questions from an evaluating board.
The evaluating board for all of the assignments consisted of the City’s HR Director, the LPD Lieutenant, an outside agency Police Chief, an outside agency police Captain, and a local community member knowledgeable about issues and concerns in our community.
After the assessment center testing in February, advancing candidates had to pass an interview with the Chief of Police related to complex leadership, management and supervisory topics.
The job of a police Sergeant is one of the most critical in a police agency; their leadership practice creates a stage for how the agency will function. The LPD operates in a manner that respects and protects the rights of everyone. To complete the process of becoming a police Sergeant in today’s complex world for law enforcement takes significant time and is not a simple task. Based on the credibility of the process, we are confident that we are producing supervisors who will act in the best interest of the community, city and police agency.
We express thanks and appreciation to our City management and Council for supporting our Supervisor In Training Program, and to our police Lieutenant, the Human Resources staff for its work on the assessment center process, and our team of outside evaluators.
Brad Rasmussen, Chief of Police, Lakeport Police Department
Kelly Buendia, Director, Lakeport Administrative Services Department