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Merced’s Top Cop Plans December Retirement After 37 Years in Law Enforcement



Merced leaders will begin the search for a successor to Police Chief Thomas Cavallero, who retires in December. (Merced PD)
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Merced Police Chief Thomas Cavallero says he plans to retire in December after 37 years in local law enforcement.

“There never seems to be the right time to announce a retirement when you’ve committed your career to serve a community you believe in,” said Cavallero, a former Merced County sheriff, in an Aug. 4 news release.

“Joining the city of Merced as chief of police for this chapter of my career has been rewarding. With the work we’ve accomplished toward creating effective, service-oriented community policing programs, it is the right time for a new leader. I look forward to watching the department continue to advance its culture of professionalism and community connection.”

Cavallero served nine months as interim police chief in 2020 before taking over the top spot late that year. He succeeded Chris Goodwin, who had retired.

Cavallero Worked to Build Community Trust

Under Cavallero, the department expanded its use of body-worn and vehicle cameras to improve officer safety and transparency and stepped up community policing efforts.

“(The) chief has dedicated his career to serving the residents of our community and supporting a staff of sworn and non-sworn personnel,” said Merced Mayor Matthew Serratto. “His support for programs that have connected law enforcement and our community has enhanced relationships with our residents.”

Merced City Manager Stephanie Dietz praised Cavallero for introducing “innovative solutions to address our community’s most demanding public safety challenges. In addition, the chief’s efforts to build trust and accountability along with community partnerships that enhance our outreach services will leave a lasting legacy.”

Cavallero previously served in the Merced County Sheriff’s Department for 35 years and held the ranks of deputy, sergeant, commander, and undersheriff before becoming sheriff-coroner in 2013.


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