Hero Awards: Chief Eric R. Nunez; charming, disarming and ‘he kept us safe’

Police Chief Eric R. Nunez

Fourth in a series

Eric R. Nuñez, the retiring Los Alamitos Police Chief, who is a former president of the California Chiefs of Police Association, was called a hands-on leader who is unafraid to walk into a source of danger to keep the community safe.

Nuñez was among a series of first responders and other frontline workers named “Heroes” for 2021 at the Los Alamitos Chamber of Commerce’s annual Heroes Luncheon held at Rush Park in Rossmoor.

And, according to Los Alamitos Mayor Mark Chirco, the city’s Chief of Police enjoyes a tremendous “gift of gab,” calling him “an incredible storyteller.”

“He reminds us of that all the time,” said Chirco with a smile. “I would give him an opportunity to speak, but if I did that, we might be here until next year.”
He has enjoyed a distinguished 30-year career in law enforcement, the mayor said, “and his community engagement during the civil unrest (duing the pandemic) is one of the main reasons we are here today.”

“As many of you remember, there was a lot of unrest in our city and around the country. There were protests between two sides, generally butting heads,” said Chirco.
“Sometimes protests that took place in other jurisdictions got violent and quite acrimonious, but he (Nuñez) did something I think a lot of leaders and police chiefs wouldn’t think of doing,” he said.

Nuñez, said Chirco, “he drove out the protests, and he just walked up to both groups of protesters and just introduced himself, and he has a natural way of disarming everybody.” As a result, said Chirco, local protests allowed both sides to express themselves without major incidents.

Part of the reason the city’s police department is so beloved by residents, said Chirco, is that “he [Nuñez] is so respected and obviously loved by our residents.”

According to his official bio, Chief Eric R. Nuñez had previously been with the La Palma Police Department for nearly 25 years. He rose through the ranks from police officer to his appointment to Chief of Police in December of 2010. He was appointed in January of 2016 to serve as the 9th Chief of Police for the City of Los Alamitos. After 30 years of law enforcement service, he officially retired on June 4, 2021, and is the Interim Chief of Police until his successor is appointed.

He is currently serving as the Immediate Past President on the Executive Board for California Police Chiefs Association (CPCA) and previously was their 55th President. During his 2020-2021 tenure, he led the Association through the unprecedented times of COVID-19 and national civil unrest.

Locally, Chief Nuñez serves on the Board of Directors for Casa Youth Shelter and the Sunburst Youth Academy Foundation. In 2017, he had the honor to serve as an assistant coach for the Los Alamitos High School Varsity Football Team, when Head Coach Ray Fenton invited him and where he says he learned leadership from a true master.

Chief Nuñez earned an Executive Master of Leadership (EML) degree from the University of Southern California, a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of La Verne in Public Administration, and is a graduate of the POST Command College (Class 57).
During Command College he wrote an article titled, “Recruiting for Emotional-Social Intelligence (ESI): Enhancing Leadership, Performance, Community Trust, and Savings Lives”, which was published in the Journal of California Law Enforcement, September 2015 issue.

Chief Nuñez is also a graduate of the Sherman Block Supervisor Leadership Institute, West Point Leadership Program, and holds a POST Executive Certificate.

Chief Nuñez and his wife, Molly, make their home in Fullerton. They have four children: Kyle, 31, who lives in Florida with his wife Felicia who are the parents to Chief’s three grandchildren. Kyle is a United States Air Force Captain and Pilot; his daughter Shelby, 29, is a Police Service Officer/CSI at Tustin Police Department; Haley, 21, a college senior at St. Mary’s, sister school to Notre Dame in Indiana; and their youngest Emily, 13.

Nuñez also has a passion for teaching. He is currently an adjunct professor for Cal State Long Beach teaching the police management course for POST. He has instructed at Golden West College on topics of cultural diversity, is a certified facilitator for the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, a trained facilitator for the Josephson Institute of Ethics, and facilitates Covey’s 7 Habits for Highly Effective Law Enforcement Professionals for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. He is on the Board of Directors for the USC Alumni Association of the Sol Price School of Public Safety.

In his spare time, Chief enjoys paddle boarding, swimming, writing and playing music, and spending quality time with his family. In retirement, he looks forward to establishing his private consulting and investigations company, as well as walking his daughter Shelby down the aisle at her wedding in March 2022, attending his daughter Hailey’s college graduation, and his wife’s graduation from the University of Minnesota, as she becomes Doctor Molly Nuñez.

Hero Awards: Chief Eric R. Nunez; charming, disarming and ‘he kept us safe’