Jackie Gomez-Whiteley

Pacific Grove has a new interim police chief, just in time to learn from retiring chief Amy Christey, whose last day is Dec. 30.

City Manager Ben Harvey announced Dec. 20 that he’s hired Jackie Gomez-Whiteley, a retired police chief from Southern California. She will work alongside Christey and officially take over the reigns on Christey's last day.

“Chief Gomez-Whiteley is a proven leader with extensive and impressive law enforcement experience who is excited to be coming to Pacific Grove,” Harvey said in a letter to the Pacific Grove City Council and staff.

Gomez-Whiteley retired in 2015 from the Cypress Police Department as its chief while her husband, also a police officer, was going through cancer treatment and recovering from an accident, according to a 2016 news report in the Pasadena Star-News. After his health improved she accepted an interim position as chief of the Alhambra Police Department.

When Gomez-Whiteley took over as chief of Cypress PD in 2011, she was the first female chief of a municipal agency in Orange County. Both she and the department received several awards during her tenure.

Gomez-Whiteley started her career 31-years ago at the Orange Police Department serving in all three divisions, patrol, investigations and administration. She was the department’s first female motor officer, as well as sergeant and lieutenant. She was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1989 for her actions in an officer-involved shooting of a kidnap and attempted murder suspect.

The new interim chief has been an adjunct instructor at various law enforcement training centers throughout the state for 29 years and is program director for the California Police Chiefs Executive Leadership Institute (CPCELI) at Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

She volunteers for various organizations and serves on many nonprofit boards. She’s president of Officers Give Hope, a non-profit dedicated to hosting marrow donor drives in the public safety community throughout the state.

Harvey said in his letter that he is “pleased we are able to continue the culture that Chief Christey has created with a high-caliber leader like Interim Chief Gomez-Whiteley.”

The city manager acted quickly to find an interim after Christey announced her retirement last month. He said he was also looking to employ an executive search firm as soon as possible to find a permanent replacement by March.

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