There’s a new sheriff in town. Well, at least a new captain at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, as Sergio Aloma takes charge starting on Sunday.
While Aloma may be new to the job of captain, he’s a familiar face in town, having spent 15 of his 30 years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department stationed in West Hollywood. He started his career as a deputy here and currently serves as the station’s operations lieutenant.
Normally, a lieutenant being promoted would transfer to another station to become captain. However, in an unusual move, Aloma is getting the promotion but also staying in the Creative City.
“West Hollywood is home to me; this station and this community, it’s home,” said the 50-year-old Aloma. “I am beyond excited and humbled at the same time because I know this is not necessarily the normal progression. The fact that I get to stay here and command a station that is very special to me in a community that is very special to me is incredible. I’ve spent most of my career here. I feel very fortunate; my heart is here in West Hollywood . . . I’m looking forward to the challenges here.”
Outgoing station captain Holly Perez, who is being promoted to commander at the Central Patrol Division, is confident Aloma will do an excellent job.
“West Hollywood will be in very good hands,” assured Perez, who has known Aloma since they were both new deputies in the late 1980s. “He is very thorough and very dedicated to the job. We both want what’s best for the city, and I know he’s going to be great.”
Kristin Cook, the city’s director of public safety, has worked with Aloma on an almost daily basis for the past three years and knows how committed he is.
“I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that Sergio is taking over for Holly,” Cook said. “He’s very responsive, and I know he’s going to continue the good work that Holly was doing.”
Aloma plans to continue having deputies on foot on the city’s Eastside, noting they have helped reduce crime in that part of town. He hopes to expand the foot patrols to the city’s Westside and also wants to get more bicycle patrols riding about town, explaining that visibility can help deter crime and reassure residents.
He also plans to continue the periodic “Coffee with the Captain” meetings where residents meet informally with the captain at a restaurant or coffeeshop to share their concerns.
“I accompanied Holly [Perez] to several of the Coffee with the Captains that she did with Mayor [Lauren] Meister,” said Aloma. “I loved hearing what the residents had to say about crime in the neighborhoods and quality of life issues, so I want to continue. This is a relatively small community, just two square miles, 35,000 people. I want residents here to feel like they have a direct connection to us.”
Aloma was born in Havana, Cuba, and his family immigrated to the United States in the late 1960s, settling in the San Fernando Valley where relatives were already living.
While attending Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Aloma took a criminal justice class taught by a retired Los Angeles Police Department officer whose many stories piqued his interest in law enforcement. About the same time, he attended his brother-in-law’s graduation ceremony from the sheriff’s academy.
“The commencement speech really impacted me,” said Aloma, who lives in Simi Valley with his wife, Kristin. He is the father of twin sons, 19-year-old Zach, a freshman at West Point, and John, a freshman at the University of Utah. “I thought, ‘What a noble career to go out as a public servant and serve your community’.”
Aloma majored in criminal justice at California State University, Los Angeles, and was accepted to the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department just days after turning 21. Upon completion of the sheriff’s academy and the mandatory stint at the county jail, he came to West Hollywood in 1989 as a new deputy, working first as a patrol deputy and later joining the station’s newly formed bicycle patrol.
“I’ve always been a runner and physically active, so being able to ride a bicycle at work and work as a deputy sheriff at the same time was a match made in heaven for me,” he said. “Sometimes in the middle of the day when traffic was heavy, [the bike patrol was a] lot faster than a patrol car.”
In 1999, Aloma left West Hollywood, moving to the narcotics division where he worked with a drug-sniffing dog, another assignment that he loved. He worked with two different canine partners – a Labrador Retriever named Archie and a Belgian Malinois named Jorei – during his seven years on narcotics and adored them both so much, he adopted each of them when they were retired from active duty.
By 2008, he was back in West Hollywood for 18 months, working as a patrol sergeant and watch sergeant. After a stint at the Transit Services Bureau, where he worked under Holly Perez and oversaw protecting the subway and Metro lines, he returned to West Hollywood in 2014, working as the station’s second in command, the “operations lieutenant,” a job that had him overseeing training, scheduling and personnel. He also served as the station’s interim captain during the five months between Captain Gary Honing’s retirement in October 2015 and Perez’s arrival as captain in February 2016.
Aloma impressed many people during those five months as acting captain, including City Manager Paul Arevalo.
“I believe he is an excellent fit for our city,” Arevalo said. “Over the years, he has shown his resolve and professionalism . . . I am confident in his skills and leadership.”
Sergio Aloma ran track and cross country in high school and college and is still an avid runner. Frequently seen on early morning runs about town, before his shift begins, he averages six to ten miles each day.
Every year since joining the sheriff’s department, Aloma has run as part of a 20-member team in the annual Baker to Vegas Relay, a 120-mile run from Baker, Calif., to Las Vegas for law enforcement groups from across the globe. While various stations put together their own teams, Aloma is so fast that he was invited to join the sheriff’s department’s “elite” squad, made up of the fastest runners throughout the department. During the 2017 Baker to Vegas Relay, held March 25-26, that elite team finished second in their division, behind the LAPD’s elite team.
Beyond Baker to Vegas, Aloma competes regularly in marathons and calls himself a “sub-three hour marathoner.” His best time ever was running the Orange County Marathon in 2 hours and 58 minutes. He also ran the Mountains to the Beach marathon in Ventura County in 3 hours and 7 minutes.
Come April 17, Aloma will be in Boston, running for the fourth consecutive time in the Boston Marathon, which he calls the “Super Bowl” of marathons. The oldest annual marathon in the world, potential runners are required to meet certain qualifying times (varying by age) before being allowed to run.
His best time at the Boston Marathon was in 2014, his first year in Boston, when he finished in 3 hours and 11 minutes. He hopes to shave at least a minute off that time this year, but regardless of his speed, this year’s marathon will be special because he plans to run with his son Zach. While father and son have run in two other marathons together, this will be their first time in Boston together.
Aloma’s dedication to physical fitness is so all encompassing, during his 2008-2009 stint here as a sergeant, he was named the station’s health and wellness coordinator, promoting physical fitness to his fellow officers (and organizing the station’s Baker to Vegas team).
“I always felt as a young deputy that you had an obligation to stay as physically fit as possible for the job, especially working a patrol assignment where every day was different and around every corner, you can find the unexpected,” Aloma said. “I always felt being as physically fit as possible was important, not only for managing stress but also if you had to chase someone or fight someone into handcuffs. You owe it to your family, your partners and your community to be not only physically fit, but mentally fit.”