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Greenfield's police chief ...
Greenfield's police chief Joe Grebmeier says he's an Anglo with a Mexican heart.
He once proclaimed that apartheid-like conditions were prevalent in the Salinas Valley and he would not tolerate them in Greenfield.
Grebmeier, 56, who became chief in 2003, began to hold regular meetings to address Oaxacans' fear of police and teach them about U.S. law enforcement.
focused on street lights and stop signs, urinating in public and keeping farm animals.
Hundreds of indigenous migrants attended.
When residents asked him why he
didn't arrest the "illegals," Grebmeier
countered that hounding immigrants was not his
And for the most part, federal immigration agents rarely conducted large sweeps in communities like Greenfield, populated by large numbers of undocumented farmworkers.
"These are hard-working, honest people who came here for the same reasons all immigrants came before them," Grebmeier
said, "to make better lives for their families and their kids."
Over time, the scope of the meetings expanded.
Teachers encouraged indigenous parents to read to their kids and attend parent-teacher conferences, counselors spoke about alcohol abuse, and nurses discussed diabetes.
Then there were other issues.
In 2009, when a Triqui man was arrested in Greenfield
after sending his
14-year-old daughter to marry a neighbor in exchange for beer, meat and cash, the news exploded into a national media sensation.
Originally, the man faced charges of human trafficking and was accused of selling his
later concluded it was a case of arranged marriage and dowry exchange, which he
used as a teaching moment.
At the meetings, the chief explained that U.S. law prohibits such practices.
The man was later deported.
But some locals complained that Grebmeier
sheltered Oaxacans from the law.
said those figures included some Greenfield residents killed in other cities.
In April, about 300 indigenous men, women and children jammed the Greenfield city council chamber in support of Grebmeier
told city leaders that he
gave no special treatment to the migrants: "If they commit a crime, we arrest them."
The increase in violent crime throughout the Salinas Valley, he
said, was caused by gangs and their drug wars, not the influx of Oaxacan farmworkers.
The homicide rate in nearby Salinas had doubled over the past few years and in 2009 stood over four times the national average.
A gang member had even made an unsuccessful run for the Greenfield City Council
The indigenous migrants, Grebmeier
said, were most often victims of crime, not criminals.
"During troubled economic times," Grebmeier
said, "it's not unusual to blame the newcomers."
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Greenfield Police department
GREENFIELD - Police Chief Joe ...
GREENFIELD - Police Chief Joe Grebmeier typically starts his workday at the city's police station, but that's rarely where it ends.
What's more, during his
4 1/2 years as chief, Grebmeier
has brought in hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of technological equipment for the Police Department, and he
has fostered the trust of a growing Oaxacan Indian community previously leery of law enforcement.
"I can't ask anyone to do anything I'm not capable or willing to do myself," Grebmeier
said."You cannot run a department from a desk, and I sometimes wish to get out more so I know what my troops are dealing with and what the public is doing."The city hired Grebmeier in March 2003 after and he and two other candidates were interviewed by city employees, county official, the city manager and Greenfield residents.
Many Oaxacans affectionately call Grebmeier
, who speaks some Spanish, "El Jefe," Perez said.
participated in a police Explorer program in high school and joined the Palo Alto police reserve while he
was in college, law enforcement wasn't his
first career choice.In the 1970s, he was a biology major at San Jose State University.
"I thought I was going to be a doctor one day," he
said.But he ran out of money and had to delay getting his degree for nearly 10 years.That, he said, led him to joining the Monterey County Sheriff's Office.In his 22 years in the department, Grebmeier said, he rose to the ranks of chief deputy in the administration bureau by the time he left in 1999.He had also served in the coroner's division.
In 1981, he
managed to win a slogan competition by submitting the motto "Keeping the Peace since 1850," which the Sheriff's Office uses on their vehicles to this day.
It was during his
time at a police academy in Gilroy that he
met now-Sheriff Mike Kanalakis.Both were hired as deputy
sheriffs on Jan. 3, 1977, Kanalakis
"It was a cold day," he
said."There were eight of us, and Joe
was the baby in the group."More than eight years after Grebmeier left the agency, Kanalakis said, they remain friends.
While everyone changes through time, he
has always maintained his
core values of loyalty and compassion for the county he's
called home for 30 years.
It was under the direction of then-Sheriff Norman G. Hicks in 1991 that Grebmeier
developed a sense of community consciousness, he
said.Hicks had made it clear that if anyone wanted to advance his
career, some volunteer service was in order, Grebmeier
said.Joining the King City and Southern Monterey County Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture opened the floodgates to community participation, he said, causing him to join other organizations.
Today, Grebmeier's membership roster includes King City Rotary, the Greenfield Chamber of Commerce
and the Salinas Elks Lodge.He's also the assistant district governor for Rotary International, has served two terms as a King City councilman, and is the chairman of the board of trustees at Mee Memorial Hospital.
The hospital has seen difficult times in the past two years, with Rabobank suing it in May, claiming it had fallen behind on loan payments; the Internal Revenue Service revealing to employees in 2006 that the hospital had never paid their wage withholdings to the income tax agency; and, earlier this month, nurses alleging the hospital has failed to pay its portion of their health insurance premiums.Grebmeier
declined to discuss any of these matters.But the hospital's chief executive officer said he's a good leader."I know I can call on Joe (Grebmeier) to get good counsel," Mee CEO Walt Beck said.
Since becoming police chief, Grebmeier
also has made a priority of providing plenty of training opportunities for his
staff, such as crime-scene investigation, SWAT training and active-shooter school.
...Perez, the Greenfield sergeant, said Grebmeier leads by example and gives his officers and civilian staff whatever support they need.
Thanks to his
grant-writing skills, Grebmeier
years as police chief has brought in a range of technological gadgets to reinforce his
department.Funding from federal grants he
secured has paid for Taser stun guns outfitted with video cameras; the MMP-8, a remote-controlled inspection robot designed to help officers seek out hidden perils, such as explosives; and Super Talon net guns, which can be fired from a distance to snare a suspect.
"With limited resources and not enough people, we have to look for ways to increase productivity and effectiveness," Grebmeier
said."Technology doesn't replace common sense or training, but it helps because it takes good officers and helps make them better."
Future may include politics
Some new law enforcement initiatives for the Greenfield Police Department
include putting together an agreement to allow the department's drug-sniffing dog to search for narcotics on campuses within the King City Joint Union High School and Greenfield
Union school districts.Grebmeier
also is handling the nitty-gritty details involved in building city
's upcoming $4 million civic center facility that will house a new police station.He's
in charge of putting out the bids and hiring contractors.
As to whether the chief has higher aspirations in his
doesn't want to say."I'm very happy being the chief of police for the city
of Greenfield," he
Since beginning his
career in law enforcement, Grebmeier
received injuries that include three broken ankles, having the inside of a hand ripped out, a sprained ankle a couple of times and the loss of four teeth in fights he
None of these, however, has placed a dent in his
fondness for his
"I still love it," he
City officials say Grebmeier
plays a pivotal role in securing grant money for local programs and bridging the communication gap between the police and community. JOE GREBMEIER
Board Of Trustees
The center's eight staff members will ...
The center's eight staff members will be transferred to the nearby Mee Memorial Clinic to consolidate the two facilities' services, a move that had been considered for months, said Joe Grebmeier, chairman of Mee's board of trustees and Greenfield's police chief.
core services, including its flagship Mee Memorial Hospital in King City, will remain open.
"My youngest daughter was born there.My (81-year-old) father died there," he
Each urgent-care center - including a third in Soledad that closed this summer - cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to run each year in doctor and physician assistant salaries, rent, equipment and other costs, Grebmeier
said.Meanwhile, payments from insurance companies, patients and the state have lagged months behind the hospital's bills.
"Whatever we can do to cut costs right now, we need to do," he
said it's possible that the shuttered facilities could reopen at some point, but Mee Health System
is focused for now on getting back in the financial black.