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Code enforcement unit leader Wren leaves city
Sgt. Jason Coley to tackle blight
Joe Wren, seen here in September, was in charge of the citys blight eradication program. He left for Placerville this week. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/ Courier file photo

During 2015, Ceres Police Sgt. Joe Wren had been making great strides in the cleanup of blight in Ceres as the head of the city's new Ceres Neighborhood Enhancement Team.

Wren, however, has left for greener pastures. He was sworn in yesterday as a commander with Placerville Police Department, leaving the code enforcement unit leadership in transition.

"I hate to lose him but I'm also very happy that he's leaving for something he's wanted to do," said Ceres Police Chief Brent Smith.

Wren was ineligible to test for a Ceres Police lieutenant position because of a rule that states a sergeant must serve two years first. He applied with Placerville and was hired by Chief Scott Heller, who formerly served with the Modesto Police Department.

Smith said that Sgt. Jason Coley will be picking up where Wren left off.

"Joe's been helping Jason out with things, trying to catch him up on some of the code enforcement issues," said Chief Smith. "Jason is very excited about doing it. He wants to do it because it involves public information officer stuff that he likes to do so well."

Wren, who has been with Ceres Police Department since September 2006, had been in charge of the Ceres Police Department traffic unit - something that fits in well with Coley's patrol background.

The city created the code enforcement unit last July and placed it under the police department after it became apparent to the Ceres City Council that Code Enforcement Officer Frank Alvarez was not enough staff to put a dent in blight. Other restructuring occurred, including giving owners of abandoned 72 hours to correct eyesores rather than the weeks of due process previously allowed.

Wren's departure comes at a time when the unit suffered a setback with the injury of Alvarez during a Bakersfield area freeway traffic collision over the holidays.

"He needs time to recover, obviously," said Chief Smith. "We're hoping he can recover soon but I have not heard any word about that yet."

The absence of Wren is triggering other personnel changes. Chief Smith said a promotional ceremony will be held Jan. 20 to formally recognize the promotion of Detective Travis Hudson, who has been assigned to the Gang Task Force, to sergeant to fill Wren's position. Hudson's position, said the chief, will not be filled "until we get caught up on patrol."

Sgt. Pat Crane will be promoted as the department's third lieutenant. Lt. Crane will be in charge of the Detectives Bureau, Records Division, dispatch and evidence handling and policy manual. He will also oversee the explorer and volunteer programs.

Greg Yotsuya will be promoted to sergeant to fill Crane's position.

Four police officer candidates are currently undergoing background investigations for four positions. One of those officers being replaced are Tonya Smith who is retiring.

Wren started out his police career with Sutter Creek in 1996 and later served with the Merced County Sheriff's Department, Newark Police Department and Merced Police before coming to Ceres Police.