New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Update by the City of Santa Barbara
September 19, 2022

Kelly Ann Gordon was officially sworn in today as the Chief of Police for the Santa Barbara Department.

Gordon says she is not superstitious but when she pulled up toward the Police Station Monday morning she saw an “incredible rainbow,” calling it a “very good sign.”

City Council Appoints New Santa Barbara Police Chief

By the City of Santa Barbara
August 30, 2022

On Tuesday, August 30, 2022, the City Council appointed Kelly Ann Gordon as Chief of Police for the Santa Barbara Police Department. Her new role is effective September 19. 

Chief Gordon brings 26 years of experience in policing to Santa Barbara. Most recently, she was the Police Chief for the Monterey Park Police Department where she oversaw a staff of approximately 150, including 78 sworn officers, and a $23 million budget. In this role, she restructured the department’s recruitment and hiring practices to reflect modern policing and to ensure the hiring and retention of personnel through comprehensive selection and training programs. She was also responsible for implementing the Neighborhood Engagement Team, a multi-disciplinary/co-response approach to better addressing mental health needs and working with individuals experiencing homelessness in the community.

“I look forward to serving the Santa Barbara community and being a part of this amazing team of policing professionals and incredible executive team,” Chief Gordon said. “My first priority is to get to know my people in the police department and our community—both residents and businesses. Together we will work hard to continue to strengthen our collaborative relationships, achieve common goals, and remain dedicated to keeping our community safe.”

City Administrator, Rebecca Bjork, shared her confidence in the skill and leadership that Chief Gordon will bring to the role. “Chief Gordon is known for her progressive leadership style, strong communication skills, and her dedication to serve and we are happy to have her join the team.”

Chief Gordon began her law enforcement career with the Los Angeles Police Department in January 1996. She then left the Los Angeles Police Department in 2000 for the Montebello Police Department. She worked numerous assignments as she progressed through the ranks to Lieutenant at Montebello Police Department. In January of 2017, she was hired by the Monterey Park Police Department as a Captain.  

She also worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue Team for over 20 years and was part of the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation. She was a Canine Disaster Search Specialist, and her deployments include the World Trade Center after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike, and Hurricane Rita.

Chief Gordon has a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona and a master’s degree in Leadership from Saint Mary’s University. She is a graduate of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy and Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute. 

What do you think?


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    • As a career firefighter who worked my way up from a ground pounder and left as a chief, I disagree. It’s not as technical as rocket science. It’s way more dynamic than that. And if you were on of SB City’s police officers, you’d want the best boss possible. As a resident of SB, with the rise in crime, the mental illness that’s going untreated and manifesting itself as violent crime, the gang issue, understaffing police ranks, the expectations of the public on the PD, and on and on, I want the best person for the job. I’ve seen what happens to paramiltary organizations charged with protecting and serving the public when due diligence is not completed when hiring a top dog.

  1. This is absurd. Another retired chief getting a new retirement to stoke the most absurd pension program. Tell me that the SB City is not on the line for her next retirement? Had they hired from within that employee would just continue to build on her/his credits to date. This musical chairs thing is so common in fire department and police department hirings but the politicians do not want to offend the law enforcement/fire department personnel who contribute o their campaigns and the rank and file understand the finagling with the system to allow them to move from one department to another and double dip or more. I am, by the way, very supportive of public employees and their salaries. This game is just too excessive.

  2. This double dipping pension nonsense has got to stop. Young folks making $15/hour at the T-Mobile store as our allegedly leftist, governmental bureaucracy class abuses “labor” and unions to the tune of pensions worth millions and millions.
    Progressivism eats itself from the inside as the real workers are left adrift. It’s gross. Bernie would be ashamed of you. Roosevelt gave us the New Deal. He also saw the chicanery of public sector unions as a damnable curse. Think about it.

  3. No disrespect to Chief Gordon, but it appeared from what was reported in the local media Commander Arroyo was very qualified for the Police Chief position. If I recall correctly Arroyo progressed from a patrol officer, through different trying assignments to homicide investigations. It would be interesting to learn Chief Gordon’s “numerous assignments,” other than administrative positions, that gave her solid street experience that will help her as the chief. Not to sure about her Lieutenant to Chief move. Loses experience. Guaranteed to retire in 4-5 years. I can’t fault her, just ‘sayin.

  4. Personally I’m sure Ms. Kelly Ann Gordon is an amazing person and she’s an extremely capable officer. However we have an odd thing going on with this selection process which attempts to make political points based on ideologies rather than merit. Everyone sees it it’s glaringly bright. But try to challenge it? That puts you on the one way finger pointing train. To believe there are no qualified candidates locally is impossible. And if there are, that’d they’d not be given bonus interview points for the one thing matters most. COMMUNITY. Choosing to bring someone in from afar who’s obviously deeply rooted in their current community is a raging red flag. We see it. So Kelly, Will you be moving here? Immediately? Permanently? With no side hustle apartment that leaves your family behind? If not, please resign now. We’re on to this revolving seat musical chairs game you’re playing with pension maxing and tired of it.

  5. Yikes! How idiotic! Stop the wokeness! If I worked at SBPD and was a senior officer I would be looking for another job. SBPD is headed by the chief, but the daily operations are run by those under them. I’m pretty sure that all major policies in SBPD have input from senior officer members. The chief makes any announcement about policy, but she is just the face of the department. How long will she be here? I too am concerned that if she doesn’t move here, bring her family here and really establish roots here she will be gone shortly. How about this as a concept, search internally first before looking outside of SB. This would apply to ALL SB city positions.

    • Gary – See my 8-30 @ 10:49. – I believe Commander Arroyo, based on media information, appeared to be the best qualified within the PD. Arroyo worked significant assignments and didn’t get promoted for her work counting beans behind a desk. A few “outside” chiefs have been chosen recently. Sounds to me like city hall personnel don’t know much about the job if they continually believe their own police commanders aren’t qualified for the top job.

  6. so many things wrong here!
    – new chief is not a retired chief; currently working as chief of Monterey Park;
    – no indication anyone on current force applied;
    – logical assumption is that she is. best person for the job;
    -who says she’ll be gone shortly?
    -The City Administrator does the hiring of the police chief; city council ratifies. City council only hires two people, I think- the city attorney (on leave) and the city administrator.

    • 8-31 @ 11:41 – It would be disappointing to learn not more than one person on the PD was interested in the chief position. No disrespect to the incoming chief, but, as to the “best person” being selected, how do we know this is accurate? Someone here stated the assistant City Administrator was involved. How much experience/knowledge do they have in selecting a police chief? What does a city administrator look for in choosing? How many former/current police staff level personnel participated in the selection process? Or, were the people interviewing/reviewing qualifications simply an administrative panel contracted by the city. The former police personnel I referred to know the questions to ask and know what to look for in making their selection.

  7. I saw a local fire sept. Go down hill so fast when hiring in the ranks put a unqualified person in who made himself a good boys club to help him stay. Moral went down there was a bad feeling until has replaced by a outsider who became fair again. So it doesn’t always work hiring with in.

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