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June 16, 2021

Greenfield City Council fires police chief

Department remains on task after shift in leadership

GREENFIELD — Greenfield Police Department has entered the new year under the command of Capt. James Hunt, the acting chief since late May.

The shift in leadership began after Chief Denise Chavez Oglesby was placed on administrative leave, but it came with finalization when the Greenfield City Council fired Oglesby during a special session Dec. 20.

“It’s a personnel matter, so I can’t comment specifically on what may or may not have transpired,” Hunt said.

When asked about the city’s search for a permanent police chief, Hunt said the decision to begin that process would be made by the city manager, most likely with input from the city council, but that he could not comment on the process.

“Since I’ve been at the helm, I’ve tried to keep it business as usual, keeping the department moving forward,” Hunt said. “We still have a job to do, regardless of who’s at the top. We have calls for service we have to go answer. We have community events we participate in. Nothing’s really changed for us along those lines.”

The month of December included multiple community outreach events by the department, including Coffee with a Cop held at Starbucks, the Blue Santa toy donation on Dec. 23 and a seven-on-seven flag football game, in which officers faced off against varsity team members from Greenfield High School on Dec. 6.

“We try to engage the community on a positive front as often as we can,” Hunt said.

The shift into the new year came with no major incidents and only a few DUI arrests, according to Hunt.

“We staffed for it for sure,” he said. “We brought in a couple extra officers so we’d have enough to adequately staff the street. Plus we had a couple people assigned specifically for DUI patrol.”

Hunt continued, “The prior planning helps us be a lot more successful in our mission. It was a relatively peaceful night. People enjoyed themselves and had a good time. Nobody got hurt.”

The department is fully staffed after having hired an officer to start police academy soon, meaning there is no shortage of officers.

Hunt was hired as a captain with the department in April 2018. Prior to that, he had retired as a lieutenant from the San Jose Police Department after having served there for 26 years.

“I was looking for an opportunity where I felt my skillset would match what that agency needed,” Hunt said. “This was an exciting opportunity in the sense that it’s a very young agency. There are a lot of young officers, and I felt with my prior experience I could do something to facilitate their learning curve.”

In his past 18 months with Greenfield, Hunt said he knows he made the right choice, getting to work with the young officers who “want to learn and do the job the right way.”

As officers gain experience and the department continues to engage with the community, Hunt said, “We’re proud of the police department we’re becoming.”

“We’ll always strive to be better,” he added. “I don’t believe in setting the bar and then achieving it. Once you think you’re there, you need to set the bar higher.”

Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.