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New police chief named for Merced

Mike Conway

Post Date:06/12/2018

Christopher Goodwin named Merced Police Chief

(A swearing in ceremony for Merced Police Chief Christopher Goodwin will be held at 1:30 p.m. Friday, July 6 in the City Council Chambers on the second floor of the Merced Civic Center, (City Hall) 678 W. 18th St., Merced.)

From patrolling the streets of Merced, to managing drug informants, to supervising the SWAT team, Christopher Goodwin has pretty much done it all in the Merced Police Department.

On June 18, he will have achieved the top position in the Department as he becomes the police chief for the City of Merced.

Goodwin, a 21-year veteran of the Department, has been doing the job temporarily since the retirement of Chief Norman Andrade in December.

'Chris was the best person for the job,' City Manager Steve Carrigan said when he made the announcement Tuesday. 'He knows the City, he knows the community, he knows the Department. He has everything I was looking for in a police chief.

'Chief Goodwin is the most qualified for the job. He's been a beat cop, he's commanded the patrol officers and command staff, he's led SWAT and the training program,' Carrigan said. 'And a big advantage he has is that Chris has been doing the chief's job for the last seven months where he has been terrific, so it will be a seamless transition.'

'It's a lot of work being chief, but I'm excited for this opportunity to work with the community and the City and the individuals in this Department,' Goodwin said. 'I received a lot of support over the last several months from people asking me to take the job, so I feel good about that.'

'Law enforcement is a challenging profession right now,' he said. 'To overcome that will take training within the Department, developing competent personnel, and listening to the community. We need to respond to their needs. The more we can get feedback and communicate with the community, the better off we will be.'

To address the challenges Goodwin is working on a body camera/video policy and increasing and enhancing the use of social media in the Department.

The chief plans to bring a policy to the City Council that would outline the release of video from officer worn body cameras and car cameras. 'It comes back to being more transparent to the community, and also being able to tell our side of the story,' he said.

'That's why I think we need to use social media more,' Goodwin said. The Department has a Facebook that is mostly used to post news releases. He plans to set up a Twitter account, and train staff to use the platforms to engage the community more.

While serving as interim chief, Goodwin took ownership of the position and focused on needs of the Department.

Recruiting and retention became one of his priorities, so Goodwin and top management went to police academies to conduct interviews with recruits who were reluctant to take a day off from classes and come to Merced to interview for a job.

'We are hiring for dispatchers and police officers' is something Goodwin seems to work into just about every conversation. The change and more aggressive recruiting resulted in numerous candidates applying for jobs in Merced, with three candidates in training and six waiting to start classes in July.

Other changes followed in the Department. A focus on promotions resulted in a new lieutenant and two new sergeants. The Department was reorganized creating better span and control, allowing for better accountability.

The City Council is in the process of evaluating the construction of a new police headquarters building, and Goodwin attended a conference in Dallas devoted to police station construction. He also is one of three top City officials reviewing stacks of cannabis dispensary applications and oversees the background checks on all cannabis business applications.

When Goodwin took over in January he also was plunged into leading the Department's budget process for the upcoming year. Council indicated it will be adding two dispatchers and a new officer to the force, moving a records clerk off of Measure C funding and into the general fund and moving a police officer position up to a sergeant's position as part of his span and control reorganization.

The City contracts with Merced College to run the campus police department. Goodwin sees that as a beneficial partnership in many ways.

'The criminal justice and reserve classes will help us with recruiting,' he said. 'The arrangement let's us know what's going on out there because it's almost a small city unto itself. Now we know and work with the campus officers in case we have to call on them for backup, and we're working with the college administration on how the campus impacts the City.'

He also plans to reach out to other jurisdictions to begin working with them.

Goodwin worked his way up through the ranks of the Department starting as a patrol officer in 1996. He's served as a field training officer, detective and sergeant on patrol and in the Gang Violence Suppression Unit. He served as a lieutenant and captain before his appointment to chief. He was in the Department's SWAT unit and defense tactics instructor, supervisor, lieutenant and captain until he took the reins as chief. Goodwin has been involved with the Department's active shooter program since 2000.

He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in criminal science.

Born in Santa Clara and raised in Campbell, he came to Merced as a police officer in 1996. His wife, Jackie, is a local businesswoman. He has a daughter and two sons.

Goodwin is a 'huge' college sports fan who became mildly obsessed with the North Carolina Tarheels basketball in the 80s and it has stuck. He also enjoys duck hunting when it is in season and working out with CrossFit.

Goodwin officially assumes the position June 18. The position of police chief pays up to $157,372 a year.

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