New Atwater police chief hopes to regain trust between department and community

ATWATER, Calif. -- Michael Salvador is stepping into his new role as Chief of the Atwater Police Department, and his first order of business is to introduce himself to his new community.

Salvador comes with decades of experience. He's the former the Chief of the Coalinga Police Department, and before that, he was at the Madera County Sheriff's Office for nearly 20 years.

Salvador says he's hoping to find ways to improve the department's aging infrastructure while working with potential cannabis businesses coming to the city.

Atwater City Manager Lori Waterman said, "We're going to be looking at different venues, and avenues of funding as you are aware. We're still financially struggling, so we'll have to look at different areas to get some of the things we want done."

His top priority, however, is regaining trust between the police department and the Atwater community.

Last year, Atwater city officials let go of former chief Samuel Joseph after allegations that the department's evidence locker wasn't adequately secured.

"You're going to have a transparent police department," said Chief Salvador. "You're going to have one that accountable; you're going to have one that's fiscally responsible."

The evidence room was temporarily shut down as the California Department of Justice conducted an audit.

Salvador says what they need to do now is figure out if the issue was because of personnel or inadequate infrastructure.

"What I hope in the next six months, is to be able to answer those questions for my boss the city manager, and the council, so we put in an action plan where this never happens again," said Chief Salvador.

These aren't issues that are going to be fixed overnight, but as Chief Salvador was sworn in on Monday night, he says he plans to learn from mistakes in the past and looks forward to improving the future of the Atwater Police Department.