A Lompoc police officer was arrested Friday on domestic violence charges, marking the fourth arrest of a Lompoc officer in less than a year. Three of the incidents involved domestic violence.
Sheriff’s deputies took John Reya, a seven-year veteran of the department, into custody at around 4:45 p.m. According to the Lompoc Record, an unnamed officer knew of the dispute between Reyna and his wife and reported it to his supervisor, who informed Lompoc Police Chief Pat Walsh. To avoid a conflict of interest, Walsh asked the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office to handle the case, explaining he didn’t want to put his troops in the awkward position of arresting a coworker.
Walsh took over the Lompoc Police Department last September. Before that, he was a captain with the Portland Police Bureau in Oregon, where he worked for 22 years. Two of the Lompoc officer arrests occurred before he was appointed, and the other two took place after.
In October, Detective Matthew Hill was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend and brandishing a gun, and in May, Sergeant Joseph Stetz was charged with felony vandalism and making criminal threats following a domestic dispute with his wife. In March, Officer David Garcia was arrested for driving under the influence after he crashed into a tree.
“I am concerned that these arrests have happened,” said Walsh in an email to The Santa Barbara Independent. “I have exceptional people and they work hard for the citizens of Lompoc. These arrests have highlighted the need for officers to understand where they can go for help before these unfortunate events occur. As first responders, officers are the ones who help people in need, and they sometimes do not recognize the stresses in their own lives, or how to handle them.”
Walsh explained he’s working on “building a road map” to create a department that “values seeking help early, and taking care of themselves and each other.” That will include training and mentoring, as well as evaluating the agency’s processes for “assisting employees in need.”
“Several of the officers and dispatchers have reached out to me and expressed their support for the changes and have encouraged me as the new police chief,” Walsh said. The chief explained state law prohibits him from discussing any disciplinary actions against the officers. “All I can say is that I am fair, but firm, when it comes to discipline decisions,” he said.
Reyna’s arrest, which takes him off the department’s active roster for the time being, puts the department at 43 officers with eight open positions. All of the arrested officers have been put on paid administrative leave until the pending criminal cases against them are resolved and internal Lompoc police investigations are completed.