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Collins to replace retiring police chief in June
• Chief Brent Smith to retire in June
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Captain Richard “Rick” Collins will become Ceres Police Chief on June 1.

Rick Collins was selected Monday to become the police chief of Ceres when Brent Smith retires in June.

Smith, 45, who has been chief since February 2015, announced his retirement earlier this year and had been grooming Collins – presently a Ceres Police Department captain – to replace him. City Manager Toby Wells made the appointment with a 5-0 City Council ratification vote on Monday.

Collins was made captain by Smith soon after he became chief and has been second in command for the past five years. In Smith’s absences Collins has been serving as Acting Chief.

“After careful and thorough consideration of the alternatives for filling the critically important role, it is clear the obvious and best choice for the City of Ceres is Richard Collins,” said Wells in a staff report to the council. He called Collins a “focused, driven, and proven leader who has spent the past 22 years with the Ceres Police Department.”

Collins began his tenure with the Ceres Police in 1992 at the age of 18 years old as a police explorer. He excelled in the program, and later became a Reserve Police Officer in 1995. Collins worked his way up through the ranks, in the words of Wells, consistently excelling “at every assignment on his career path strengthening and improving his skill set to be successful at each level.”

In 1997 Collins was hired as a sworn officer. In August 1998, he became a member of the Ceres Police SWAT team. During his tenure with the agency Collins has spent time in detectives, from 1999 to 2004, where he excelled as a HighTech Crimes detective.

He was promoted to sergeant in October of 2004, and served as a patrol watch commander / shift supervisor. In August of 2005, he was elevated to the position of SWAT team leader.

While employed with CPD, Collins earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree and also completed the FBI National Academy in 2017. In 2008 he became the department’s second-ever lieutenant.

Wells’ memo to the council continued: “Mr. Collins has demonstrated his proactive efforts to improve community relationships and move the Police Department forward. His passion and commitment to the citizens of Ceres will be critical to improve the Police Department and the community that we serve. Mr. Collins is a highly qualified police professional with a long tenure with the City of Ceres. He possesses the technical and managerial skills necessary to provide a high level of leadership and direction to the department. His extensive knowledge of the City of Ceres and the challenges to both the department and the City, coupled with his skill and talents, uniquely positions him to lead the department.”

Collins’ salary has been set at $11,590 per month, or $139,080 annually.

Collins, a 1987 Ceres High School graduate, is married, to his wife Heidi, and they have a son Trey.

Besides his police work, Collins has volunteered for many years as a youth soccer coach and board member.

The appointment of Collins – currently a Modesto resident – was not flagged by Councilman Channce Condit who has crusaded for department heads to be asked if they are willing to live in Ceres. During the January vote to ratify the appointment of Kevin Wise as Ceres’ new fire chief, Condit voted no, presumably because he lives outside of Ceres.

Smith, who has been with Ceres Police Department since 1993 and chief since the departure of Art deWerk in June 2014, said he’s looking forward to retiring. No fan of the political direction of California lawmakers, Smith plans to move to Idaho.

Smith has lived in Ceres all of his life and attended Ceres schools. After graduating from Ceres High School in 1987, he attended Modesto Junior College and Chapman University. He joined Ceres Police in 1993.

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Rick Collins, seen here serving as a celebrity waiter in 2015 for the Ceres Concerts in the Park series, will become Ceres Police Chief this June. - photo by Jeff Benziger