Original URL: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/mesa/articles/1009MesapioZ11.html

Mesa police add bilingual public officer
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 9, 2003 12:00 AM
Senta Scarborough

Mesa police are adding a sergeant who is bilingual in English and Spanish to the public relations staff that deals with media.

Sgt. Ruben Quesada, an eight-year veteran, joined the public information office this week.

Quesada said in an interview that he is most proud of his work as the coordinator of the department's Spanish-language program, where he oversaw about 110 of the department's certified Spanish bilingual officers to ensure they received biannual training.

Sgt. Mike Goulet, who heads the office, said the move would improve police outreach with Valley Hispanic news media.

"Many times we have had requests from the various Hispanic newspaper and television stations for interviews, which we have been able to accommodate. This is another step to build better relations," Goulet said. Mesa's population is about 22 percent Hispanic.

Quesada will join Goulet and Det. Tim Gaffney for what has been described as a temporary assignment. No time length was specified.

In the past, there have been three public information officers, but the staff dropped to two about two years ago after an officer left on medical retirement.

"We have been talking about this for some time," Goulet said. "I think there is a need for additional staff. We are a pretty large city. It is not unusual to have more than one major incident occur at one time. This will help us be more proactive in getting information out."

Quesada was named to the special assignment by Police Chief Dennis Donna.

Goulet said public information officers are one of a few positions that the chief decides.

"This is nothing I had planned for. It just came up," Quesada said. "It is an honor, and I'm excited about it."

Quesada, 32, holds a bachelor of arts degree from Northern Arizona University and a master's degree in organizational management from the University of Phoenix. He has served as a special investigations detective, field-training officer and gang liaison.

He said he joined the force because he wanted a job that changed every day.

"It's another part of police work I never had any thought about. I had no idea what PIOs did before. I was just clueless. It has been an eye opener for me," Quesada said. "My main concern here is to be able to conduct interviews with Spanish media whenever possible."

Reach the reporter at senta.scarborough@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-7937.