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Search for police chief on hold while council decides on new city manager
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The search for a permanent city manager has stalled the search for a new police chief.

Acting City Manager Lisa Blackmon said the decision to suspend the search was based on the advice of the recruitment firm the city had obtained.

The recruiter, who indicated they had already gotten strong response from qualified candidates, noted most applicants would be reluctant to be hired in a community that hasn’t settled on a permanent city manager.

Miranda Lutzow departed the city manager’s post at the end of February.

The council now has several options. They can secure an interim city manager — typically a retired city manager that does consultant work — to serve while they conduct a search for a permanent replacement. They could also leave Blackmon in place as the acting city manager while they search for Lutzow’s replacement.

Lutzow is the city’s assistant city manager. She has been temporarily elevated to the acting city manager’s role.

Starting Thursday, April 1, Manteca Police Operations Division Commander Mike Aguilar will again take over as interim police chief. Aguilar served as interim police chief from November 2019 to August 2020 after previous police chief Jodie Estarziau was placed on administrative leave and eventually terminated.

Retired Modesto Police Chief Michael Harden took over as interim police chief last August.

The switch from Aguilar to Harden last year was predicated by California Public Employment Retirement System rules that frown on those covered by the plan working out of their classification for an extended period of time. Those rules have since been relaxed due to the pandemic.

“On behalf of the entire City, I want to thank Chief Harden for his steady leadership during a period of uncertainty for all of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We all wish him the best as he goes back to focusing on enjoying retirement with his loved ones," said Blackmon. "I also want to express my thanks to Captain Aguilar for resuming duties as our Interim Police Chief. Michael is a trusted member of our core team at the City of Manteca, and I know he will continue to build on the momentum of positive public safety efforts in our community."

Once the City is ready to resume its search, it will leverage the community's input that the City has already received regarding desired characteristics of the new chief.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email