Bedford swears in Westchester County's 1st Hispanic chief of police

BEDFORD (WABC) -- The Westchester town of Bedford recently made a bit of history, swearing in its first Hispanic chief of police.

Melvin Padilla has barely had time to decorate his new office, but the new interim chief is already hard at work.

"It's all a blur," he said. "It's been a whirlwind."

The 13-year Bedford police veteran was sworn in Sunday, taking over for the previous chief, who retired. That normally would not be a big deal, but it's noteworthy because Padilla is a pioneer: He is the first Hispanic chief in all of Westchester County.

"There's a lot of attention that comes with it, and a lot of pride that comes with it as well," he said. "I'm certainly proud of my heritage, and I'd like to represent all our heritage in a positive light."

Padilla is 39 years old, Puerto Rican and has an impressive resume. He served six years active duty in the Navy, two years in the NYPD, and is a member of the prestigious FBI National Academy.

Now, he takes over the 40-member department he's been a part of for more than a decade.

"He's received awards for his work in the years that he's been with the force," Town Supervisor Chris Burdick said. "We feel very comfortable and confident that he will perform very capably as chief."

The town affluent and violent crime rare, but property crimes are always a concern, as is traffic. There's also a increasing Hispanic immigrant population.

There's a civil service process that has to play out before the appointment becomes official, but if all goes well, Padilla hopes to shed the "interim" part of his new title in May.
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