In March of this year, Dean Agnoletto was promoted to the rank of lieutenant and posted at Hemet Station. He replaced Lt. Geoff Raya, who had been promoted to captain and given the command of the Indio jail facility.
Agnoletto’s police background is in special teams of all sorts — SWAT, homicide, gang task forces and special enforcement. He said he got into law enforcement straight out of college because it gave him a career in which to use his mind to solve crimes and make use of his athleticism while working the job.
Agnoletto grew up playing ice hockey in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada. He attended college in the United States on a soccer scholarship. He played soccer at both Azusa Pacific University and Concordia College from which he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in management. At Concordia he captained the soccer team. He is married with children.
A pivotal event in Agnoletto’s professional life, which reveals much about him as an individual, occurred in September 2002. As a detective assigned to the Palm Desert station, he was dispatched to an incident where a mother had killed her three-year-old daughter and attempted to kill her five-year-old daughter. The five-year-old, Gracie Cervantes, had been shot multiple times and had had her throat cut from ear to ear. First responder firefighters who found her lifeless were astonished when she moved and gasped for air. Agnoletto was assigned to interview Gracie. “I just don’t understand how someone can compromise parental trust,” said Agnoletto. The interview with Gracie formed what Agnoletto describes as a lifelong friendship and commitment to the young girl. “The more I interacted with Gracie, the more I learned what a difficult life this five-year-old was living,” he said. “It was clear that Gracie and her little sister had had to fend for themselves.”
Agnoletto opened a college trust fund, the Gracie Cervantes Trust Fund, through the Riverside Sheriff’s Association. He has staged fundraisers and to date has raised $35,000 for Gracie’s education. “She’s 14 now, great at soccer and happily living with an adoptive family,” said Agnoletto. He was quick to note that his fundraising drive continues in high gear, given rising college tuition costs even at California state institutions.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for children, especially abused children,” said Agnoletto. “I will always be in her [Gracie’s] life and will be there for her.”
In 2006 the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department honored Agnoletto with a humanitarian award for his continued devotion to this young survivor.