—Watsonville Police Dept.

WATSONVILLE—As the aroma of sizzling meats, tortillas and salsa wafted across the parking lot of Watsonville Police Department May 11, a swarm of retired and current police officers and WPD staff gathered for a friendly send off to Sgt. Bryan Fuentez on his final day of service. 

Fuentez put in 27 years. He started his career in 1995 as a volunteer Community Service Officer and three years later he became a full-time police officer.

“When I first started, I had no idea what it would take to be a cop,” Fuentez said. “I was so clueless, I accidentally joined the DOC Academy at Evergreen College thinking it was the Police Academy. But I learned that this was the best career ever; it was a perfect fit for me.”

As he worked his way through the ranks, Fuentez served as Direct Action Response Team member, Gang Violence Suppression officer, FBI task force member, Auto Theft detective, Field Training officer, corporal and then sergeant, among other duties. 

During the farewell taco lunch, a dispatcher from the county 911 Center, Netcom, read over the radio: “Bryan served the City of Watsonville with honor and dedication. On behalf of everyone at Watsonville Police Department and Netcom we thank you for your service. We wish you all the best in future endeavors of retirement.”

WPD Chief Jorge Zamora called Fuentez an ideal officer.

“He was wonderful to work with,” he said. “He was compassionate about his work and he took his duties seriously.”

Fuentez added: “Early on in my career, I made a conscious decision that I would put my life in harm’s way to protect you, without question. I knew there was nothing more important to me than to keep you safe while we are on the streets. I will miss all of you.”

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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.


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