Thanks Sergeant Guzman For Your Service!
Last week, Sergeant Mariano Guzman worked his last shift as a police officer for the City of Ukiah. After 32 years, Sgt. Guzman has decided to retire. I know many of you in the Ukiah community know Sgt. Guzman, and would agree with me when I say that losing him as a Ukiah police officer is a tremendous loss.
Mariano is as Ukiah as you can get. He grew up here, attended Pomolita Middle School, and graduated from Ukiah High School in June of 1980. During his high school years, Mariano started his work career like a typical young man in Ukiah – working at the Rinehart gas station on North State Street.
By the fall of 1980, Mariano was working as a dispatcher for the Ukiah Police Department and attending Mendocino College. He graduated from the Police Academy in September of 1981 and became a police officer with the City of Ukiah in December of 1982.
Although it’s hard to imagine now, Mariano was like many of us officers who grew up in the 1980s – he was told to go home and get a haircut on his first day on the job. And, although he forgot his gun while responding to a disturbance call during his first week of training, Mariano still found and arrested the subject who was creating the disturbance – without his service pistol!
While in training, Mariano quickly demonstrated that he had the right skills to be a fantastic police officer. In fact, while Mariano was still being trained as an officer, he was instrumental in helping solve an armed robbery by interviewing and obtaining confessions from the suspects.
From 1983 until 1988, Mariano worked as a uniformed patrol officer. In 1988 he was assigned as a detective, and wow, was that ever a good decision. As a detective, Mariano shined. He tenaciously solved crimes as he investigated burglaries, property crimes, and thefts. Through his hard work, Mariano was able to solve more than 70 percent of the crimes he was assigned to, and in 1990 he was awarded the Police Officer of the Year award for the City of Ukiah.
As Mariano grew as a detective, his was assigned more and more difficult cases, until he eventually became one of our department’s lead detectives for high-level crimes such as robberies and homicides. Mariano became the second-in-command for the Detective Division, often assigned as our lead detective responsible for the overall supervision of these complex criminal investigations. Mariano also became an expert in criminal gangs and worked with many multi-county gang investigation units. On average, Mariano was assigned, investigated, and completed 150 criminal investigations a year.
Along with his hard work on the police force, Mariano also represented the department in different community organizations. Mariano was a board member for Nuestra Casa for many years, and worked as our department’s representative on the Mendocino County Latino Coalition. Mariano was also extremely active with Men’s Basketball and at St. Mary’s School.
Luisa Acosta, Executive Director of Nuestra Casa in Ukiah, said, “Mariano Guzman is a very well respected member of the community, and he continues to serve on the board of Nuestra Casa, as he has for years. He is respected by teens and kids, as well as their parents. Sometimes, when teens need help, Mariano spends time with them one-on-one to tell them about the importance of education or community service. He not only cares, he gets involved. He's one of our heroes. A lot of kids have looked up to him for a lot of years. He has earned the highest respect from the community and is one of our best role models. We treasure him because he is one of our own.”
In 2009, for his expert investigative skills, police work, and volunteer and community involvement, Mariano was once again selected as the department’s Police Officer of the Year. And, after being assigned as detective for 22 years, Mariano returned to patrol in 2010 as a Patrol Sergeant to assist in the supervision and training of our younger officers. As you can imagine, Mariano was perfect in his new role, acting as a mentor and teaching the advanced techniques and practices he learned as a detective.
Captain Trent Taylor, one of Mariano’s supervisors said, “When I was hired as a very young and new police officer here, Mariano was my first patrol partner, and he quickly became a mentor to me. His patience with me, his work ethic, and his approach with the community showed me how to be an effective police officer, and the skills and approach that I learned from him I still practice to this day.”
Retired Mendocino Superior Court Judge Vince Lechowick said, “Sgt. Guzman's retirement will be a great loss to the City of Ukiah, its Police Department, and its citizens. I have observed Sgt. Guzman both inside and outside of the courtroom for more than three decades. Mariano is the ultimate professional, a ‘gentleman cop.’ His serious yet polite approach to law enforcement not only was a role model for younger officers, it resulted in greater public respect for his department and higher conviction rates because witnesses -- and even suspects -- were more willing to provide information based upon the respectful way that they were being treated. Sgt. Guzman's performance over the years is one of the best examples of true ‘public service’ that I have ever seen. The silver lining in UPD's loss is that, in his new job as a Detective with the Mendocino District Attorney's Office, the DA and citizens of Mendocino County will benefit from his experience and talents [since Detective Guzman will still be based in the Ukiah Valley]. I am sure that he will continue to perform to the highest standards of excellence in his new role."
Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster said, “Sgt. Guzman is one of the most connected officers with the community I have ever met. I am extremely honored and privileged to have worked with him. He has great investigative instincts and skills, and we are lucky that he has chosen to continue his career as a District Attorney investigator.”
Mariano is one of the most intelligent and honorable people I have ever known, and I am extremely fortunate to call him a friend. He often reminds me that each day, countless law enforcement professionals just like him spend their time protecting us from extremely dangerous people.
As a Police Chief, I can’t thank Mariano and the rest of our professional law enforcement officers and 911 dispatchers enough for the daily sacrifice they make to assure our safety. So, I’ll say it again. Thanks to all of you who keep us and our families safe.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.