Tracy Police Chief Gary Hampton said Espinoza’s resignation became official on July 30. He served 18 years with the department.
“My official statement is John Espinoza self-concluded his employment with the Tracy Police Department to pursue retirement,” Hampton said. “I first became aware of his desire to self-conclude on July 25.”
Espinoza joined the department as a lieutenant and was promoted to captain in 2005.
When asked why Espinoza resigned, Hampton said he could not confirm or deny the captain was the subject of a personnel investigation by city officials.
Police Capt. Jeremy Watney later said he could not comment because there was an ongoing investigation.
Jenny Haruyama, director of city administrative services, said on Wednesday, Aug. 14, that it was her understanding that Espinoza retired.
“You can leave your job and retire at any time,” she said. “It’s at the discretion of the employee.”
Haruyama said if Espinoza choose to resign and then retire from his former position he would have to file with the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. She said as of Wednesday she hadn’t received any state confirmation.
Any possible investigation involving Espinoza would likely be closed because he is no longer employed with the city, according to Haruyama.
Haruyama said she knew of a civil matter involving Espinoza, but she was not privy to its details.
In March 2011, Espinoza filed a civil claim with San Joaquin County Superior Court that accused the Tracy Police Department and the city of Tracy, as well as police Chief Janet Thiessen and human resources director Maria Olivera, of violating his rights as an employee and peace officer.
The lawsuit had contended Espinoza was shunted from his position as second in command at the department and to another job without supervisorial capabilities.
According to a superior court official on Thursday, Aug. 15, the case is still ongoing and all parties involved are due back in court for a hearing at 9 a.m. on Sept. 3 in Department 11.
As for replacing Espinoza, Hampton said he plans to fill the position in the next 90 to 120 days.
Hampton said he will be working with officials in the city’s human resources department to conduct a promotional process. He said they have yet to decide if they will be promoting within or opening up the process to officers from other agencies.
“The last search (February 2012) we had a large number of candidates,” Hampton said. “We absolutely (need to replace him). It’s a critical position to the day-to-day operations.”
Espinoza was the division commander for the department’s special operations — general investigations; special investigations for drug activity, human trafficking and illegal gambling; and all non-sworn employees that includes dispatch and records.
Hampton said his department currently has four highly-qualified lieutenants — Dave Sant, Greg Farmanian, Mark Duxbury and Mike Vieira, who he felt could easily compete for the position.
“I want to ensure we get the best qualified candidate in there,” he said. “I believe they will compete quite well with external (candidates).”
Espinoza could not be reached for comment for this story.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.