Meet the candidates: Perez, Wilrye in race for next Westlake police chief

Published 8:00 am Saturday, August 13, 2022

Southwest Daily News asked candidates for Westlake Police Chief for answers to two questions that might help Westlake residents begin to think about who they want to fill this key role for the next four years. On the ballot for Chief of Police is Michael Perez and incumbent Chris Wilrye.

What are your plans to recruit and maintain great officers in your force?

PEREZ: My first goal is to bridge the gap in leadership between the chief and patrol officers by assigning a patrol sergeant to manage patrol operations. Hiring more patrol officers would be a later goal. First, someone must be in place to help manage the patrol division.

WILRYE: We will begin speaking to high school seniors who show an interest in law enforcement. The Police Explorer program is geared towards our younger citizens looking to begin their careers, though they could not be put on patrol until the age of 21. In addition, we will consult with the military services to determine if they have any personnel interested in transitioning into law enforcement.

My goal for maintaining officers is to support and encourage officers to further their education in law enforcement to better protect themselves and our city. In 2021 we were able to raise the officers pay to the current restructured pay scale and we will request and encourage an additional increase in the new fiscal year. Additionally, I will work with the city council to increase incentive pay for the officers who have additional skill sets. (ie bilingual)

Name your three top goals for the Westlake Police Department.

PEREZ: (1) Accountability: Starting with me and working its way down, we would start by making sure we are accountable for our actions. We must make sure we are acting in a professional manner first before we push this on the public. (2) Training: $8,000 a year budgeted in a 1.6-million-dollar budget is not sufficient. I will increase the budget for training to ensure that we are equipped to handle any situation that we may face. As the training coordinator while serving as an investigator at Westlake, I implemented several training units in the department.  I will work with local agencies and schools to push more training in our local schools to ensure that the schools inside our jurisdiction are well protected. (3) Presence: We must be present in the community day and night to deter crime. I will push more discretion when it comes to the enforcement of traffic. This means more education and less traffic citations issued. We must realize the situation our residents are in right now and have more compassion on just issuing a citation for revenue for our budget. Yes, traffic is an important role in patrol, however it does not mean we have to be so ticket driven.

WILRYE: (1) With the steadily growing housing development and the new businesses coming into the city, I would like to add more officers to the patrol shifts. We currently work two officers per shift, and

I would like to see it increased to three or four officers per shift. (2) We would increase our officers training and look to keep their pay in line with other departments in our area. (3) Updating our policies and procedures manuals.