Incoming Watsonville Police Chief Jorge Zamora.
(Via City of Watsonville)

Jorge Zamora selected to serve as Watsonville’s new police chief

The longtime Watsonville officer — who has served over 25 years with the department — will replace recently retired Police Chief David Honda. Jorge Zamora’s badge-pinning ceremony will take place on Jan. 10.

A Mexican American South County native and veteran with more than 25 years in the department will be Watsonville’s next police chief, city officials announced Thursday.

Jorge Zamora — whose parents immigrated from Michoacán, about 175 miles west of Mexico City, before his birth in Watsonville — became the city’s acting assistant police chief after the retirement of David Honda in July. He will be the city’s 16th chief after his swearing-in ceremony in January.

The announcement comes after what the city termed “an extensive search and recruitment process, including interview panels with community partners, business owners and law enforcement professionals.”

“Through the process, [Zamora] demonstrated his in-depth knowledge and understanding of our community and his clear vision to support, develop, and lead the police department in future years,” interim City Manager Tamara Vides said in a release.

Zamora first joined the department as a police cadet in 1991, and was hired full-time as an officer in 1996. Over the course of his tenure, he has served in various assignments including patrol, gang and narcotics enforcement, hostage negotiations and youth mentorship.

He most recently served as a police representative on the city’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Policing and Social Equity, an 18-person group to increase community trust and accountability in relation to the police department.

“Having different people with different points of view and different life experiences is so necessary,” he said in March. “We have to be very intentional about what it is we’re looking to shift and why we’re looking to shift it.”

Of the county’s four police departments — Watsonville, Scotts Valley, Capitola and Santa Cruz — only the latter has an interim chief, with Bernie Escalante serving in that role following Andy Mills’ departure in October. Capitola named Andy Dally as the new chief in October following Terry McManus’ retirement announcement in June.

Escalante said he believes Zamora’s appointment is great for the organization and great for the city.

“He’s a great guy and will do great things for the city of Watsonville,” he said.

Zamora will have his official badge-pinning ceremony on Jan. 10. The event will be held at the Watsonville City Council chambers beginning at 4 p.m., and will be open to the public.