New police chief rose through Claremont PD ranks

After nearly a year of searching, Claremont has promoted one of its own to helm the police department.

Captain Shelly Vander Veen was officially unveiled as the Claremont Police Department’s new chief during Tuesday night’s city council meeting. Captain Vander Veen will be the first female police chief in Claremont’s history.

The new chief will take over the department on November 23, according to City Manager Tony Ramos, and will officially be sworn in on November 28.

“I’m deeply humbled by the opportunity to be police chief for the city and department that I’ve dedicated the last 23 years of my life to,” Captain Vander Veen said.

The choice comes nearly a year after outgoing Chief Paul Cooper announced his retirement at the end of 2015. Chief Cooper was immediately retained as interim police chief as the city looked for a replacement.

In introducing the new chief, Mr. Ramos praised her, “natural athleticism and desire to make a difference in her community.”

“I have been fortunate to work closely with [Captain Vander Veen] over the years and cannot express how much I respect her work ethic and dedication to our community,” he said. “This person knows the city of Claremont well, and cares deeply about ensuring the safety of our residents.”

Captain Vander Veen, a Chino native, started as a reserve officer for the city in 1993, quickly getting hired full-time and moving up the ranks within the department. She has spent seven years assigned to patrol as an officer, promoted to corporal and assigned to the detective bureau and served seven years as lieutenant before being appointed to captain.

In a speech before the council, the new chief expressed her desire to lead the police department forward and committed herself to helming a professional and ethical force.

“The community has my commitment to lead with transparency and continue to build the relationships that the police department has with the community,” she said.

Chief Cooper, in officially announcing his retirement date, thanked the city for believing in him and expressed that he will miss the department.

“The department is my second family, and I’m sure my wife can attest to the number of hours I’ve spent at the station,” he said. “It has been my second home.”

The city council praised Mr. Cooper for his leadership over the past 10 years, and congratulated Captain Vander Veen on the new job.

“I’ve observed your good work as captain,” Councilmember Corey Calaycay said. “You’ve been there when [Chief Cooper] has had to have you fill in for him on many occasions. You’ve done an outstanding job and I’m looking forward to seeing the great leadership that you’re going to bring.”

Councilmember Opanyi Nasiali shared a story of meeting Captain Vander Veen during a ride-along while he was running for city council.

“I spent an evening there from about 7, maybe 8 until midnight, and that lady is tough,” he said. “So I know we’re getting not only a qualified and well-skilled police officer, but a tough one as well.”

Chief Cooper praised the skills of Captain Vander Veen noted that she will serve the department well.

“I think she’ll do an excellent job,” he said.

Captain Vander Veen will be installed as the chief of police at a Badge Ceremony on Monday, November 28 at 5 p.m. at the Doubletree in Claremont. The event is open to the public.

Council receives more Prop 57 blowback

The council’s decision to formally oppose Proposition 57 was met with derision during public comment, as a group of more than 20 people—mostly students from the Claremont Colleges—sat in during the council meeting, presenting a petition and reading statements lambasting the council for its opposition.

The statements ranged from accusing the council of not properly giving the community a voice in the decision to the negative psychological affects prison has on a person. Many of the speakers talked about working with rehabilitated felons and expressing those felons’ desires to re-enter the community.

Proposition 57 eventually passed on election night, with a commanding 64 percent of Californians voting in favor.

Jessica Chairez, of the Pitzer College student engagement center, offered three recommendations to the council: organize a public forum before taking a stance on a proposition, form a task force or committee to address the issue and poll the community for its stance on the issue.

She claimed Prop 57 was vital for rehabilitated criminals to get the opportunity to re-integrate into society.

“I think it’s very important for legislation like this to exist and to get passed, because I think it will give them a chance to better their lives,” she said

The council thanked the group for being there, and encouraged them to voice their opinion on any future city issue. But they did not budge, noting that the information received from the police department regarding crime was too much to ignore.

Mr. Calaycay sympathized with the students, expressing a modicum of regret over taking a stance on the proposition. He noted, however, that the agenda item was properly posted, and the public was given the opportunity to weigh in during last week’s meeting.

“It was interesting because when we opened up public comment on that particular item, nobody spoke that evening,” he said. “So hopefully in the future just so everyone is aware, there are those opportunities.”


Campus East development

The council also voted unanimously to approve plans for the Campus East development along the border with Upland.

The final environmental impact report (EIR), tentative parcel map, conceptual site plan and development agreement with the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) was approved about a month after the planning commission’s recommendation in early October.

The 30-acre development will contain sports facilities, mostly for Pitzer College and Claremont McKenna College. The facilities will include a baseball diamond, a football field, tennis courts, an archery range and an Argentinean paddle tennis court.

Councilmember Joe Lyons was absent from the meeting. More information from Tuesday’s council meeting will be posted next week on our website

The next city council meeting will take place on November 22.

—Matthew Bramlett


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