Visalia's new police chief shares plans for department

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- The city of Visalia has a new police chief. Chief Colleen Mestas retired earlier this year after announcing she is battling breast cancer.

Chief Jason Salazar is still settling into his new role as Visalia police chief, but the department is one he's very familiar with.

"I've been here for 22 years and really grew up in this department," he said.

Salazar had been serving as a captain since 2011. He's been in nearly every position in the department and was named chief in February.

"Honored and privileged I think are the best ways I can explain it," said Salazar.

Now he's looking ahead for the best ways to leave his stamp on the department. Salazar says having a good relationship with the community is essential to the department's success.

"We also have an opportunity with each contact we make to make an impression on the community," he said.

The department will also be going through some upgrades. Plans for a new dispatch center are already beginning. Right now, they're in the basement of the police department, but they'll be breaking ground at Burke Street and Goshen Avenue in early 2016.

"That'll change some of our operations here in the department but certainly provide a much better place for our communications center to operate and take us well into the future," said Salazar.

Salazar says most important -- he wants people to know that the department is here for them.

"We want to provide value to the community is the biggest thing. We're here to work with them on all of our stakeholders," he said.

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