Gustine buys out police chief's contract

After less than a year as Gustine's police chief, Richard Calderon no longer is employed with the department.

Gustine Mayor Rich Ford confirmed that Calderon's last day with the Gustine Police Department was Wednesday.

City Manager Margaret Silveira decided to buy out the remaining four months of Calderon's yearlong contract with the city for $29,008, which will come from the city's general fund.

Ford didn't elaborate on why the city ended its relationship with Calderon, who became chief Jan. 4. Ford said no disciplinary actions were involved.

"I don't think I can give you any more information than that, because it was an employment issue," he added.

In the meantime, the city has hired Jeff Schindler, a retired 30-year veteran of the Merced Police Department, to serve as interim police chief. Schindler was hired by the city Wednesday.

The department has nine sworn officers, including the chief. "I'm just getting my feet wet right now," said Schindler, who retired as a commander with the Merced police in June.

Ford said the city will begin a new search for a police chief, although he's not sure when.

Calderon could not be reached for comment Thursday. He did, however, tell Mattos Newspapers late Wednesday that his working relationship with Silveira had grown strained, and that he wasn't given an opportunity to succeed in his vision for the department.

Silveira declined comment when asked about Calderon's statements. "I just wish the best for him," Silveira said.

Calderon isn't the first police chief to leave the department under unusual circumstances.

He became the permanent chief after Kris Anderson stepped down in March 2008. Anderson, who was hired January 2007, left after he was pulled over in February 2008 by the California Highway Patrol on suspicion of driving under the influence.

Anderson eventually pleaded no contest to a DUI charge in San Joaquin County Superior Court. He was sentenced to three years' informal probation.