Capt. Jason Salazar was named Visalia’s chief of police to replace Chief Colleen Mestas when she formally retires this spring.
Visalia City Manager Mike Olmos said Salazar will be acting chief immediately. The appointment was approved by the City Council in a closed-session meeting Tuesday night.
Mestas stepped down in January after announcing that she would retire to battle breast cancer. Mestas, 49, has been the police chief in Visalia since 2009 and was hired as assistant chief a year earlier. Previously, she served as a captain in the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department, where she started as a deputy in 1988.
Lt. Ed Lynn had been acting chief in Mestas’ absence but indicated he had no interest in the job on a permanent basis.
Salazar was hired by the Visalia Police Department as a community service officer in 1993 and a full-time officer in 1996. He was promoted through the ranks, becoming captain in 2011. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Mountain State University in West Virginia and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University. Prior to being selected as chief, Salazar was the head of the department’s operations division.