On Wednesday, July 11 at high noon Pinecrest swore in their new police chief, Sam Ceballos, Jr. The Village Council and Village Manager were there. Police officers from Pinecrest and neighboring municipalities stood proud. And, of course there was family…lots and lots of family. Their overarching presence was fitting this day because it is clear that Chief Ceballos gets his strength from his family.
Mayor Cindy Lerner choked up when she kicked off the ceremony, calling it an “exciting, proud and fitting day for Pinecrest.” And no wonder, after an exhaustive search the Village had promoted from within. Sam Ceballos, Jr. has been part of the Village’s command force for ten years.
“Most of the credit for finding the new police chief belongs to Village Manager Yocelyn Galiano Gomez,” explained Lerner. “Yes,” said Ms. Gomez, “I conducted marathon interviews with the final two candidates. After ten and a half hours with Sam, I knew we had our man.” The audience chuckled. “It’s amazing how much you learn about someone you thought you already knew when you sit down privately.”
Judge Bill Altfield, who lives in Pinecrest and is very involved in the community, swore in Ceballos. Fitting, since they have admired each other for 15 years after they met on a sensitive criminal investigation. “As we worked the case, it struck me this was a man of integrity, compassion and dignity. It’s all the qualities we want in a police chief.”
Sam’s wife, Leo, is extremely proud, “He’s already created a new policing unit and I know he has plans to improve on an already great force.” Sam’s father, Sam Sr., a retired police lieutenant, beamed with pride throughout the ceremony. When asked if he was going to advise his son. “No, I never got this far. (chuckling) He outranks me.”
When it comes to family support, the new Chief has plenty. Besides his wife and parents, his brother provides spiritual support. He’s a minister in Fort Lauderdale. Ceballos feeds off of his family’s individual strengths and opinions.
In my personal sit-down with Chief Ceballos, he spoke about how important is was to both learn from and teach his families. He sees himself having two, a blood relative one and a police one. “I tell my kids and colleagues, it’s important to do your best every single day and maintain high moral and ethical standards in life. Eventually, it comes back to you in recognition and you’ll be successful in your career.”
Ceballos recollects, “The minute I got to Pinecrest I knew this was the place I wanted to finish my career. This is my 34th year in law enforcement and working for Pinecrest is the pinnacle of my career.” The deep respect for everyone around him is apparent in every word. “This is my family. We will support each other as strongly as I feel supported today.”
Regarding the police work itself, Ceballos said, “We are well regarded in our community, we have their respect and we have a good working relationship, but I see us finding ways to elevate our prestige, professionalism and respect even beyond its current high level. We’ll do that through education, training and hard work.”
Ceballos’ mother wanted him to be an attorney. She knew he had the capacity to do it, but following in his father’s footsteps was a driving force in his life. “He was my role model, I looked up to him and I wanted to be like him. So I’m very happy today, less so for me and more for my parents and children who can see that with hard work comes accomplishment.”
When I told him what his father had said about not being able to give advice to a son who had surpassed him, there was a reflective pause and then, “Wow.”
You can see that Chief Ceballos is a spiritual, grounded man who cares deeply for those around him. “Right now I feel balanced, energized and committed to excellence. My family will keep me strong and allow me to excel in this most important job as Pinecrest’s Police Chief.”