Sheriff Gives Blasnek Transfer, Promotion

Chris Blasnek
Chris Blasnek

Chris Blasnek was not necessarily expecting to leave the familiar setting of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station when he was called to a meeting on Dec. 27 with Alex Villanueva, the new Los Angeles County sheriff.
Blasnek, who has been the captain at the local station, said he was not told the reason for the session at the Hall of Justice in downtown L.A., and he was prepared for anything.
“I didn’t know if I was being transferred or my time [with the department] had been served,” Blasnek said. “So I am pleased he looked at my resume and decided he was going to promote me.”
Blasnek said he is being named a commander and will work in downtown L.A. According to department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida, Blasnek’s new assignment with the South Patrol Division will start on Sunday.
South Patrol encompasses the Lakewood, Cerritos, Norwalk, Pico Rivera, Carson and Lomita stations, Blasnek said, adding he previously worked at Lakewood and Cerritos.
Lt. Mark Slater of the Crescenta Valley station said he had spent 32 years in the department before he worked with Blasnek for the past two years, and found him to be a great mentor.
“I’ve worked with a lot of captains and I’ve worked with a lot of supervisors, but working with Capt. Blasnek has really taught me a lot in the last two years about leadership and management and just overall dealing with people,” Slater said. “I’ll definitely miss him. I was looking forward to spending more time with him under his command, but people have different plans for him.”
Slater credits Blasnek for making improvements to the building and lifting morale at the station.
“He wanted the building to look nice because it was a direct reflection of us as a department,” Slater said. “He wanted our personnel to enjoy coming to work and enjoy going out and doing good work. He instilled that in people. He took his leadership and ran with it. He definitely saw a change in people in how they were working here. … It definitely was a plus having him here. There was nothing bad about the prior leadership, but [the station’s upgrade] was a reflection of the captain, and it was very noticeable.”
Slater was also impressed with Blasnek’s commitment to fighting crime and his engagement with the community.
“When burglaries and other crimes appeared last year, he brought in the resources to deal with those and encouraged personnel to be proactive,” Slater said, “like how we were targeting [temporary license] plates” that sometimes have been used by those committing crimes.
LCF Mayor Terry Walker said Blasnek’s promotion was well-deserved as he kept council members in the loop on crime matters but he would be dearly missed.
“He’s always had his heart in doing the best for our town,” Walker said. “Whenever there was a robbery, he’d take it to heart. He was always determined to improve things. He really gave his heart and soul to our community.”
Blasnek served as a lieutenant for 10 years — most recently with the department’s reserve forces bureau — before he arrived at the local station. He was second in command at the station that serves Walnut, Diamond Bar and Rowland Heights before leading the reserves.
What he will remember from his time at Crescenta Valley is that morale and arrests are up and crime is down in many areas. Additionally, deputies are pleased with the updating and new look of the station.
“It wasn’t just me,” said Blasnek, adding the entire staff at the station was “incredible” and “like a second family.”
One accomplishment, Blasnek said, was remodeling the dispatch area with bulletproof glass and making it “very airy and open.”
Another improvement, Blasnek said, was installing gates on the station’s driveway so the wrong kind of people can’t just drive in.
“We’ve had drunk drivers in our station driveway before,” Blasnek said. “They were so drunk they called 911 and asked where the deputies are. They found us.”
Landscaping has been updated and the station has been painted inside and out to make it more appealing to the public as well as to the people who work there, Blasnek said.
His only regret is that the construction of a mobile command post hasn’t been completed. The project has been getting worked on since he arrived and the money has been raised.
“We’re about ready to order it,” Blasnek said. “I’ll come back and be there for dedication. That’s the only thing I didn’t get to see to completion. It will be near and dear to me. We’ll make it happen.”
Blasnek said the city of La Cañada Flintridge went through some “rough patches” with burglary sprees over the past two years, but overall it had been a successful run.
He noted he appreciated the vote of confidence by the new sheriff.
“My gut instinct and what I’ve been told by the new sheriff is the old promotional system is gone,” he said. “We’re promoting people based on merit, which is huge.”
Blasnek expects his new role will be to ensure captains use all tools available to them to fight crime, deal with personnel issues and complete various projects the sheriff needs.
“I think my role changed from taking care of my station to ensuring the captains of stations now have my backing and resources and my knowledge to assist them and be successful,” Blasnek said.
He said Monday that there hasn’t been talk yet of a replacement, but that previous statements by Villanueva suggest the sheriff will send multiple qualified candidates to be interviewed by local city officials to have a say in his replacement.
Blasnek said his new office will be in the Hall of Justice’s eighth floor, down the hallway from the sheriff’s office. The location is where most of the chiefs, commanders and executive staff are headquartered.
“I began my career in 1983 at the Hall of Justice jail,” Blasnek said. “I worked there for three years until I left for Lakewood Station in 1986. So I guess you could say that I started my career there as a jail deputy and I will ultimately finish my career there as part of the executive team. It’s gone by in just a flash. I still remember showing up for my first night of work at the jail and being so nervous. It was a lot to take in.”

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