The Nov. 3 afternoon swearing-in ceremony for new Los Banos Police Chief Ray Reyna, Jr., brought a large outdoor crowd to the front of the city’s new police station, as large as the crowd that gathered in the morning for the station’s ribbon cutting.

During the ceremony Reyna said he thought maybe 50 people might attend and was surprised to see so many people (well over 200), who at one point gave him a standing ovation.

Several speakers that afternoon said that such a large crowd was a testimony to the respect and affection Los Banos residents felt for Reyna, who has served in the police department for more than two decades.

One of the many people in attendance was his father, Ray Reyna, Sr., a retired Los Banos police commander who served for 30 years with the department. After Reyna, Jr., was sworn in and given his chief’s badge, he pinned a ceremonial badge on Reyna, Sr. The new chief also pinned a badge on his wife Valerie.

Los Banos City Manager Josh Pinheiro expressed his appreciation of the new chief’s 24 years of service in the Los Banos Police Department, starting in 1999 when Reyna was a community service officer. Soon after Reyna graduated from the police academy, he became a sworn patrol officer. He was promoted to sergeant in 2007 and commander in 2010.

Pinheiro commended Reyna for his integrity, his community engagement, and his involvement in every aspect of the police department, making him clearly the best qualified person for police chief.

The ceremony featured several speakers, beginning with Pastor Rudy Reyna, Ray’s uncle, who gave the invocation, Mayor Paul Llanez, and retired CHP Commander Sam Samra, leading up to City Clerk Lucy Mallonee swearing in Reyna as the new chief. Samra called Reyna “the epitome of professionalism, a dedicated officer devoted to community service and a visionary.”

When it was time for him to speak, Chief Reyna thanked everyone in attendance, especially his wife Valerie, their seven children and his father. He said that from the time he was a child, he wanted to be a police officer and to serve in Los Banos.

“I would watch my dad get dressed in his uniform and shine his shoes each morning,” Reyna said, “and thought ‘I want to do that.’  When he was 13 his dad asked him to ride along with him on patrol. After that, Reyna said, “There was no question I would be a police officer.” As a teenager he became a police explorer before he started as a community service officer.

Reyna also thanked the mayor, the city councilmembers and the city manager for putting their trust in him. He also expressed his appreciation for city staff, his “brothers” in the city’s fire department and the “brave and talented” police officers he has worked with, including Jason Hedden, who is now Turlock’s police chief, and Commander Justin Melden (the emcee for the ceremony), who will be his “right-hand” man.

Reyna concluded by thanking the community of Los Banos for the support they have shown him. “As a proud graduate of Los Banos High School in 1997,” he said, “over the years I have appreciated and enjoyed working with the residents of this city.”

Several speakers noted during the ceremony that Los Banos has been fortunate to have had the service of Ray Reyna, Sr., and Ray Reyna, Jr. for more than four decades.