New sheriff takes office in Merced

12/30/2013 5:45 PM

12/30/2013 11:20 PM

Sheriff Tom Cavallero took the oath of office Monday inside the Merced County Courthouse Museum.

The 49-year-old was sworn in in front of Merced County deputies and supervisors as well as family and friends.

Cavallero is taking over for Mark Pazin, who officially stepped down Sunday to accept an appointment as chief of the Law Enforcement Branch of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Cavallero has said he will serve out the rest of the term, which ends Jan. 1, 2015, but won’t run for election.

Cavallero said he would like to be “productive” in his year as sheriff. He said he has some ideas he’d like to implement, but he also wants to provide some balance in the department during what could be a distracting election.

“I’d like to make the year productive,” Cavallero said Monday. “But because people will be ramping up for an election, I think part of my job is to be a stabilizing influence in the agency.”

The Merced County Board of Supervisors this month appointed Cavallero, who has spent nearly 30 years in law enforcement, to take over for Pazin.

Three candidates for the office have made their intentions known this month.

Sgt. Frank Swiggart, 47, is head of the Merced Community College Police Department, which is operated by the Sheriff’s Department.

Sr. Sgt. Rich Howard, 43, is the supervisor of the Merced County Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force.

Pat Lunney, 66, has been chief of investigations for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office since 2008. He also served as chief of the Merced Police Department for 15 years.

The salary range for sheriff is $133,952 to $163,092 per year, according to Merced County’s website.

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