Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief
Source: Santa Barbara Police Department
On March 1, 2021 at 8:00 A.M., Santa Barbara Interim Police Chief Bernard Melekian, was sworn in by City Administrator Paul Casey as the City’s twenty-eighth Chief of Police, since 1900. Chief Lori Luhnow retired on February 13, 2021.
Chief Melekian was selected by the Administrator to serve as Interim Chief as the City navigates a collaborative months-long national search for a permanent Chief.
Shortly after being sworn in, Melekian shared a message with the Department’s sworn and civilian staff:
“I bring you a simple commitment; I will keep the Santa Barbara Police Department moving forward on the cutting edge of 21st Century Policing and continue to reinforce the concept of what some have called 'procedural justice.' That is, to ensure that we continue to treat everyone with dignity and respect and that our internal administrative processes reflect and reinforce those values.”
Melekian previously served as the assistant CEO for public safety for the County of Santa Barbara. His 46 years in law enforcement includes a Medal of Valor & Medal of Courage, 13 years as the Chief of Police for Pasadena, CA, 3.5 years as Undersheriff for the County of Santa Barbara.
In October 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder appointed Melekian as the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). He served in that capacity until 2013. As part of his work with COPS, he oversaw the development of the concept of Collaborative Reform, a widely acclaimed alternative to the traditional consent decree.
Melekian is nationally recognized for his work on the National Police Foundation, which advances the field of law enforcement through innovation and science.
Melekian achieved his doctorate from the School of Policy, Planning and Development at University of Southern California, in 2012.