La Verne names new police chief

The La Verne Police Department announced the appointment of its 23rd chief of police, Samuel Gonzalez, on March 20. Gonzalez has been with the department for 23 years in various roles, including detective and operations captain. / photo by Chris Rogers
The La Verne Police Department announced the appointment of its 23rd chief of police, Samuel Gonzalez, on March 20. Gonzalez has been with the department for 23 years in various roles, including detective and operations captain. / photo by Chris Rogers

Samira Felix
News Editor

The city of La Verne has appointed Capt. Samuel Gonzalez as the 23rd La Verne Police Department chief of police following the retirement of Police Chief Colleen Flores earlier this year. Gonzalez had served as acting chief since Flores took a medical leave in February 2023.

Gonzalez said when he became a police officer more than 20 years ago he didn’t imagine he’d become chief.

“My career path hit a bunch of the positions within the organization to eventually get me to where I’m at now,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez said his goal as acting chief was to “keep the bus moving” until Flores returned. He added that he looked at that role as an audition. 

“I looked at it as an audition to demonstrate to the city manager, city council and community that I can do the job,” Gonzalez said. “That I can support the city and the city’s vision, mission and goals in doing the job and ensuring that the operations in the police department would continue to progress and that I would address community concerns head on, I didn’t shy away from anything.” 

La Verne Mayor Tim Hepburn said Flores put Gonzalez in a position as captain knowing that he was succession planning, and the council and city manager have been very happy with his performance as acting chief, so it was very natural to promote him.

“He jumped in and during the course of the year that he has been acting chief he performed in an awesome manner,” La Verne City Manager Ken Domer added. “He was always there for information. He was there on morale for the department. He was participating in a lot of regional collaborations with different departments and other chiefs of police.” 

Gonzalez said everyone has different leadership styles and now feels he can implement his style because as acting chief he was running the department as he thought Chief Flores would. 

One of the things he started to emphasize even more is the importance of family atmosphere. He said he would like it to be more inviting where employees can bring their families to the departments and to community events because he would like to meet them and thank them for sharing their family members with the city. 

Gonzalez has plans to implement new programs in the department in regards to community engagement and interfaith. He is also currently working on a program where citizens can report issues directly to area commanders to improve efficiency. 

Gonzalez served in the United States Marine Corps after high school before joining and working at the Los Angeles Police Department for three years. He joined the LVPD in 2000. He has held many roles since then, most recently being administrative lieutenant and operations captain where he worked under Flores.

“The city of La Verne or the police department really afforded me the opportunity to work a multitude of different divisions and I played a lot of roles in different areas,” Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez has a bachelor of science in criminal justice management from Union Institute and University and a master of science in law enforcement and public safety leadership from the University of San Diego. He received both degrees while working at the LVPD because he wanted the knowledge and education to move up in rank.

“I was very happy and proud that I went back to obtain a higher education,” Gonzalez said. “It’s one of those things I look to to maintain those high standards of integrity, professionalism and to show that I’m dedicated in all aspects to ensure that the community’s getting the right person for the job.”

Samira Felix can be reached at samira.felix@laverne.edu.

Samira Felix, a junior journalism major with a concentration in print-online journalism, is news editor for the Campus Times. She previously served as a staff writer.

Chris Rogers is a junior photography major with a minor in art history. He is a staff photographer for the Campus Times and chief photographer of La Verne Magazine. He is also a freelance photographer and movie stills photographer. He discovered his love for photography at a young age as he and his family traveled the world in their goal to reach all seven continents. They were fortunate to reach their seventh continent in the winter of 2019. He have a deep love for photography and loves being able to tell an entire story through one still image at a time. His work can be found at ChrisRogersPhotography.com.

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