Jim Wyatt (left) and Pedro Espinoza have been appointed as Gilroy fire and police chiefs, respectively. Photo courtesy of City of Gilroy
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Two Gilroy public safety veterans have been appointed to the top spots of their respective departments.

The Gilroy City Council appointed Pedro Espinoza as police chief and Jim Wyatt as fire chief on Sept. 21. The two will assume their new positions on Oct. 1.

Espinoza, a 25-year law enforcement veteran, was hired by the Gilroy Police Department in 2003 as a patrol officer. He worked his way up the ranks to captain in 2015.

Prior to working for the Gilroy Police Department, Espinoza worked in Vacaville as a patrol officer and detective and the UC Davis Police Department as a patrol officer. 

Espinoza earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from California State University, Chico. He holds a management certificate from the State of California Commission on Police Officer Standards and Training and is a 2017 graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy. He is also a 2015 graduate of the Santa Clara County Leadership Academy.

Since 2005, he has served as an instructor for the South Bay Regional Training Consortium/Police Academy.

Espinoza will take over the position from Scot Smithee, who retired on June 1 but agreed to stay on an interim basis as the city searched for a new police chief.

Espinoza said he was “deeply honored and humbled” to be chosen for the role, and thanked his family for supporting him throughout his career.

“I commit myself to taking on this role with respect, integrity and compassion,” he said. “I am so very proud to be a member of this team. I am so excited to lead the men and women of the Gilroy Police Department.”

Espinoza’s salary will be $206,160 annually, in addition to benefits, according to Human Resources Director LeeAnn McPhillips. Per a concessions agreement with management staff, Espinoza’s salary will be temporarily reduced by roughly 9 percent through June 30, 2022.

“The City of Gilroy is fortunate to have an incoming chief with this amount of experience and knowledge,” said Interim City Administrator Jimmy Forbis. “We are even more fortunate that he is already familiar with the Gilroy community and our unique challenges and advantages. He will be a great benefit to our community and will keep our police department moving forward.”

Wyatt, who was named acting fire chief on Sept. 11, will now hold the position on a permanent basis.

Wyatt replaces interim chief Mark Bisbee, who was appointed in January. Bisbee was limited to 960 hours of work as he is retired and a CalPERS beneficiary. 

Gilroy has been looking to fill the role since December 2018 after the retirement of Alan Anderson.

Wyatt, who has lived in Gilroy for 34 years, is a 35-year veteran of the fire service. He has worked for the Gilroy Fire Department for more than seven years, most recently at the rank of division chief, and has taught emergency medicine for 38 years to nearly 10,000 aspiring EMTs and paramedics, according to city officials.

He previously worked for the San Jose and Campbell fire departments.

In recent months, Wyatt has been managing the city’s emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic as the emergency operations manager.

During the virtual council meeting on Sept. 21, Wyatt had his chief’s badge pinned on his uniform by his son Nick.

“I’m very honored and humbled that you have chosen me as fire chief,” Wyatt said. “You’ve given me a magnificent fire department to be its leader. We have an excellent group of men and women that are dedicated to this community and they really do heroic things.”

Wyatt’s salary will be $196,200, plus benefits, according to McPhillips. He will also have his pay temporarily reduced by 9.23 percent through June 30, 2022.

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Erik Chalhoub joined Weeklys as an editor in 2019. Prior to his current position, Chalhoub worked at The Pajaronian in Watsonville for seven years, serving as managing editor from 2014-2019.


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