Budget cuts will greet Morro Bay's new police chief

A tighter budget is expected to be a top challenge when Tim Olivas assumes the rank of Morro Bay police chief later this month. Outgoing Chief John DeRohan predicts Olivas could face budget reductions similar to those that occurred in 2005, when the department laid off four police officers and its part-time staff.

As the department enters its next fiscal year, Olivas agrees with DeRohan that, because of the economic decline, they are feeling the pinch but said the department is determined to maintain a high level of service.

“I foresee future cuts in the budget but not losing officer positions,” Olivas said. “Going forward, we are going to be tasked with tightening the belt.”

Olivas came to the Morro Bay Police Department in 2004 as police commander after working for the California Department of Fish and Game for 14 years.

“This is a great opportunity for me. Since coming here in 2004 and being mentored by the current chief, I’m able to make an almost-seamless transition,” Olivas said.

After graduating from Cal Poly with a biology degree, Olivas worked for the Morro Bay Police Department in 1987, and at the same time attended Allan Hancock Basic Police Academy. He graduated from the academy in a Morro Bay police uniform.

“What led me to law enforcement was the opportunity to help people as well as hold people accountable for taking advantage of others,” he said.

Olivas will be sworn in at the April 26 Morro Bay City Council meeting. His annual salary as commander is $107,000 and will increase to $119,000 when he becomes chief.

DeRohan spent 31 years in law enforcement. He started his career in Oceanside and later became the Pismo Beach police commander. In 2002, he became Morro Bay’s police commander and was promoted to police chief in 2004 when Chief Joseph Loven retired.

DeRohan appointed Olivas in 2004 as commander and is happy they were able to work together, he said.

“I’m proud to have someone from within the department become the next chief. It can’t get any better than that,” DeRohan said. “He (Olivas) will do a great job. He was the best choice.”

DeRohan said he plans to spend more time with his family, doing hobbies and enjoying life.

DeRohan’s retirement date is April 23.

The Morro Bay Police Department has 17 sworn police officers, five dispatchers and three civilians.

The department has a $3 million budget.