GALT — A veteran of the Galt Police Department has been chosen as its new leader this week.

Galt City Manager Lorenzo Hines appointed Lt. Brian Kalinowski as the city’s new police chief Wednesday, taking over for Tod Sockman, who retired last year. His first day as chief will be Oct. 11.

“The Galt Police Department has a bright future ahead,” Kalinowski said. “Right now, we are doing a lot of work in professional development, actively hiring for a variety of positions, and as we have some people leave, retire, or advance through the department, there will be plenty of opportunities for promotion.”

Kalinowski was one of those employees to benefit from promotion.

A member of the Galt department for eight years, his career spans nearly three decades in law enforcement.

He spent more than 20 years with the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office, where he worked patrol, detention, investigations, as a hostage negotiator and as a member of the special enforcement team. Promoted to sergeant in that department in 2004, he supervised the patrol, investigations and custody units. In 2007, he was promoted to lieutenant, and managed the civil unit, communications, and custody facilities.

Kalinowski came to Galt in 2013 as a lieutenant, where he has served as both the operations and support services commander, as well as the department’s public information officer.

He and Lt. Richard Smith both served six months as interim chief after Sockman retired last November.

The main challenge the department currently faces is trying to deliver exceptional service to the community, while still coping with the loss of Officer Harminder Grewal and the recovery of Officer Kapri Herrera, Kalinowski said.

“History tells us, because we endured this when we lost Officer (Kevin) Tonn, that we have a long road to recovery ahead,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time with the staff and I’ve been addressing issues and concerns from them. (Grewal’s) loss and (Herrera’s) injuries hit us hard, and our recovery from that is our first and foremost priority.”

Grewal was killed in a head-in collision on Highway 99 near Dillard Road as he and Herrera were traveling to El Dorado County to assist with the Caldor Fire.

Herrera suffered major facial injures, but was released from UC Davis Medical Center in September. Both had been with the department about two years, and both were former Lodi Police Department officers.

Earlier this year, Grewal was named Officer of the Year for 2020.

Also on the list of priorities for department improvement, Kalinowski said, is the implementation of the body-worn camera program, which is scheduled for a November launch.

Last April, the Galt City Council approved a contract to purchase the cameras from Axon, the company that also manufactures the Taser stun gun.

In a presentation to the council, Kalinowski said the Axon cameras were chosen because they have the ability to start recording the moment an officer draws their handgun or activates a Taser. The cameras also have GPS tracking and provide a real-time feed to a remote location.

Kalinowski told the council that there is evidence body cameras reduce the number of complaints against officers, as well as reduce use of force and the time needed to review incidents.

Another challenge the department faces is hiring new officers and filling current vacancies, Kalinowski said. There are currently 17 positions that need to be filled, he said, including his own executive assistant, records officers, dispatch operators and patrol officers.

Kalinwoski becomes Galt’s ninth police chief in the department’s 74 years of service.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with the staff and city council, help implement a vision for the city and move this organization forward. I’ve got a spirited, supportive cast of staff members who are just as excited.”

Kalinowski holds a master’s degree in law enforcement and public safety from the University of San Diego. He is also a graduate of the Peace Officers and Standards and Training Command College and the Police Executive Research Foundation Senior Management Institute for Police.

“Brian possesses the education, experience and skills to serve successfully as the police chief of the Galt Police Department,” Hines said in a Wednesday press release. “He understands our community and shares the city council’s belief in maintaining a safe community. I look forward to working with Chief Kalinowski in this new role as a key member of my management team and believe he will provide strong leadership in the police department.”

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