Atwater’s embattled former police chief has been hired by another Merced County police department, an official confirmed Thursday.
Officially fired from Atwater in November, Samuel Joseph was sworn into the Gustine Police Department on Tuesday, according to Police Chief Melt Medeiros. Joseph assumes the rank of agent, which Medeiros said is higher than the rank of officer but lower than sergeant.
The rank of agent is the equivalent of a corporal in many other agencies, Medeiros said, and is an at-will position. The chief said the position was not created specifically for Joseph.
The former chief had an ugly public fight with the city of Atwater that left him on leave for a year before he was terminated. He has since filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Joseph did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“He applied. He went through the same extensive vetting process that any other applicant would have to go through, as far as (Police Officers Standards and Training),” Medeiros said. “And was able to pass the entire vetting process, and we welcome him aboard.”
Joseph brings the Gustine Police Department to a total of seven sworn officers, Medeiros said, with an eighth officer in the background check process. Joseph has more than 20 years in law enforcement and was officially named chief in Atwater in November 2016 after acting in the interim for about three months, but was then fired two years later.
Before that he spent about five years as the No. 2 officer in Atwater.
“He’s very well educated. A great deal of training in his background experience as well,” Medeiros said. “Of course that’s always attractive to any police agency. We’re happy that we’re able to bring him on.”
Joseph is a graduate of the advanced leadership training at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
While in Atwater, he was also accused of not properly securing the department’s evidence locker, bullying or threatening subordinates, hiring a felon as an officer and supplying a gun to a code enforcement officer who failed a psychological exam.
All of the accusations have been denied by his attorney, who is overseeing the lawsuit against Atwater.
Medeiros said Joseph will be paid a mid-level officer’s salary from $49,445 to $54,513 plus benefits, according to Gustine’s salary schedule.