watsonville police department new officers
Watsonville Police Department promoted Gustavo Zamora (from left) to sergeant Tuesday while Edgar Rivera, Andres Gutierrez, Antonio Mendoza, Armando Uribe and Ulises Gonzalez were officially presented with their badges as incoming officers. Photo: Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Watsonville Police Department formally welcomed five new officers at a promotional badge pinning and awards ceremony Wednesday.

Close to 150 people packed the City Council Chambers for the two-hour event that drew top brass from Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties, the Santa Cruz District Attorney’s office and the City of Watsonville.

Edgar Rivera, Andres Gutierrez, Antonio Mendoza, Armando Uribe and Ulises Gonzalez were brought up before the crowd and had their badges pinned to their uniforms by family members to waves of applause.

Additionally, Gustavo Zamora, who has been an officer with WPD for the past six years, was promoted to sergeant while Sgt. Donny Thul was promoted to captain.

“Your service and your sacrifice does not go unnoticed,” WPD Chief Jorge Zamora said. “Now that you’ve made it, what are you going to do next? We have to treat the badge as a symbol of responsibility.”

Mendoza, who was previously with Capitola Police for 15 years, said he liked the “growth” he saw in Watsonville.

“It’s a great change,” Mendoza said. “I worked my way up over the years from a cadet at age 15 all the way up to become a senior officer and field training officer. I love this community.”

Rivera, a Watsonville native, said, “I’ve always had a passionate drive to help people but also a curiosity about the legal system. Enforcing laws has always been a big attraction for me.” 

He was previously a corrections officer at Santa Cruz County Jail.

Uribe said he is switching over from working at Salinas Valley State Prison. Gonzalez said he came on board at WPD as a police cadet at age 14 and worked his way up, while Gutierrez brings four years of police experience with Santa Cruz Police.

City Manager Rene Mendez told the crowd that “we should not only honor our officers, but also their families; they wouldn’t do what they do without your backing.”

An awards presentation was next on the program. Five life-saving medals were handed out. One was for the rescue of a 3-week-old child. Other awards included an arrest in a Watsonville homicide and “Excellence In Prosecution” to Assistant District Attorney Michael McKinney.

Marvin Luna took home a community service award while 15 others earned a Medal of Merit.

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


  1. Hopefully this means that law enforcement will enforce traffic laws. Tired of cars speeding through red lights.

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  2. City Code and signs posted by EA Hall and Minte White schools, say no peddling but the peddlers still have their three carts selling junk food every day. Then the kids trash the neighborhood. I know it’s not that important to city officials or police to enforce these laws, however, it affects all of us who live in the neighborhood. We have to pick up their trash every day. Why make city code laws to then never enforce them. It’s just like the sign at EA Hall school that states no cell phones are allowed at school and I see the kids walking into school talking on their cell phones. If you make rules, enforce them. The kids trash their school, leaving garbage out in the field and the school does nothing to clean it up. PVUSD and Watsonville Police are not good neighbors.

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    • I agree – but this sort of behavior starts at home and is enforced by us in the community. I see kids dropping trash in my neighborhood I ask them to go pick it up. If we want this sort of behavior to be stopped by cops when it should be stopped by mom/dad/whoever, then we’ve already lost sadly.

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      • Mom and dad aren’t there. Police need to enforce the law which states no peddlers can be near school. It’s posted and is city code. If peddlers were made to leave, the garbage would also leave. Do keep up.

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  3. yes, it is sad there are no women in the group. but we need all the officers that our city can recruit. and it is NOT up to WPD to get kids to pick up trash. and , at the time school gets out, most parents are still at work. as neighbors , if we are home, it is up to all of us to reinforce that fact that trash is not acceptable on our streets . I know. i go out daily along the levee by salisipuedes creek and also Atri Park and pick up trash, no matter what the weather, with my dog , every day. and I am 70.

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    • Steve Trujillo,
      It is city code which is law in the city. Law is to be enforced by city police. If those people peddling illegally next to schools were stopped, so would the garbage. It is up to the city to enforce the code they enact. PS I’m older than you and I pick up the garbage. I want the city to either enforce code they’ve enacted.

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