KING CITY, Calif.-- Dennis Hegwood has been appointed interim chief of police for King City by Michael Powers, city manager.
"I believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty," said Hegwood.
Dennis Hegwood has taken on a tough job, working with a police department in big trouble, after six officers were arrested Monday morning for criminal charges. Hegwood knows first hand it's not about the past, but how you move forward.
"I have stood in the fire. I have been a police chief. I have been sued for dog bits, sued for suspects being shot," said Hegwood.
Nine years ago, Hegwood himself was accused of a crime and later acquitted, so he knows the system well. He's confident there's hope for king city.
"I have met the officers and non-sworn individuals here and I refuse to accept this perception that you can paint this department with a broad brush," said Hegwood.
King City police sergeant Alejandrina Tirado says, ever since the police corruption case went public, the mood at the police station hasn't been pleasant.
"First day was very difficult. The most difficult day for everyone, but now its back to business," said Tirado.
She's relieved to see an interim chief on board, one who's already working to get more officers on the street. Hegwood says he believes in time he can even turn the tide of public opinion.
"Attitudes need adjusting, and I can fix attitudes," said Hegwood.
After 30 years in law enforcement, Hegwood would like to think he knows his stuff. He says he'll conduct an internal investigation of the police department and share his findings with city leaders. Even though he's an outsider, he wants to try something that king city residents haven't seen in awhile.
"I would like to hear from the community, and so that open door policy, I have, I hope the word gets out on that," said Hegwood.
Tirado says building that trust between the community and the police department is the only way to turn this thing around.