POLICE Senior Superintendent Raul A. Benitez formally took over Tuesday as officer-in-charge (OIC) city director of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) in a simple turnover of command.

Benitez replaced Superintendent Antonio Montalba, who served as OIC city police director for almost two months and is due for compulsory retirement this coming January 16.

Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya and City Department of Interior and Local Government director Emil Rana were present during the turnover.

Prior to his new assignment, Benitez is the head of R-4 or Logistic Division of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-Northern Mindanao for a year.

In a short message, Nacaya appealed to Benitez to continue the momentum of Cocpo that Montalba has started.

While marking the day as another milestone of his career to serve as OIC of the city police office, Benitez said he is pleased to welcome the challenge given to him and assured to give his best to make Cagayan de Oro a peaceful city.

“Peace is a consolidated effort by everybody in the society including media, religious sector among others,” he said.

He assured that he will continue the momentum started by Montalba.

Meanwhile, as he bade goodbye to the men and women of Cocpo, Montalba was thankful for the 12 years of being in the service, as he recalled the 43 work–related cases filed against him but not one hit him.

He emphasized that those charges did not affect him to serve and protect the people of Cagayan de Oro.

“But rather, it inspired me to work harder,” Montalba said.

He said he will personally prepare his papers for retirement and will be waiting for another responsibility given to him in the future as a civilian.

Montalba also expressed gratitude to all the past police regional directors, as well as the present regional director Gil Hitosis, Mayor Vicente Emano and all those who inspired and motivated him during his 12 years in service. (Annabelle L. Ricalde)