COMMISSIONER DAVID BEJARANO
A further claim was made that Mayor Susan Golding had interfered with the hiring process by interviewing not only her, but also Assistant Chiefs John Welter, George Saldamando, and LAPD Assistant Chief Mark Kroeker. If the claim was true, and Golding was acting in an official capacity as mayor, it would be a violation of the San Diego Municipal Code and she would be guilty of a crime.
Several members of the San Diego Black Police Officer's Association attended the hearings and backed Armstead's claim. To ensure the selection process was done without bias, Armstead and several members of the BPOA, demanded a delay in the hearing until the allegation could be investigated.
City Attorney Casey Gwinn responded by addressing the council and assuring them there was no violation of the law. Golding's response was she was simply doing what any private citizen was entitled to do when they had a vested interest in public safety. She had interviewed the candidates only for personal reasons and was not attempting to influence the managers' decision.
When David Bejarano graduated the San Diego police academy in the summer of 1979 he already had a career goal in mind - make detective sergeant in 20 years. That being the case, the 42-year-old former Marine must have been very pleased to find on his 20th anniversary, he was chief of police.
Working his way through the ranks as a patrol officer, detective and supervisor, Bejarano had a well-rounded career and was well regarded. When asked by the media about his Hispanic background shortly after his appointment as chief, Bejarano replied, “Obviously I'm very proud of my heritage, but I've tried not to focus on being Latino. I'm the chief for the entire city."
Despite Bejarano's willingness to embrace everyone in the city, the April 26, 1999, appointment of San Diego's first Hispanic police chief since Antonio Gonzales was not without controversy. At his confirmation hearing, another candidate for the job, Assistant Chief Rulette Armstead, raised a question of fairness when she claimed City Manager Mike Uberaga had not conducted the interviews in an equitable manner.