New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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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. 

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Yoda1019 Sep 20, 2022 06:23 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

For clarification, almost all of the cities in California participate in the California state pension system (PERS). Consequently, when an employee moves from one city to another, they are building credit in the same system. There are not multiple pensions (double-dipping).

Mebk Sep 20, 2022 06:13 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

SBTejano Sep 20, 2022 05:43 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

I am comfortable with Chief Gordon’s abilities, but here we go again with the pension musical chairs. Last time I checked $1 Billion unfunded pension liabilities at the County level, not sure at the City level? Interested to know what is her full and complete compensation package,

Gimli Aug 31, 2022 05:04 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

CHILLINGRILLIN - 'The Shield' was loosely based on the LAPD Rampart Division on a lot of corruption with many of the police officers and detectives. The scandal resulted in more than 140 civil lawsuits against the city of Los Angeles, CA., costing the city an estimated $125 million in settlements. Shawn Ryan who created 'The Shield' actually wanted to titled it 'Rampart', but I think Los Angeles city officials prevented him to doing that. Many of people who played the part of residents in the poor neighborhoods and gang members were real. In my opinion, that is the very best TV police drama series that was ever created. Law & Order: SVU (Special Victims Unit) is the second best. (And for those who think I am a MAGA conservative hardcore right wing nut here on edhat, that I am not. I have no love for radical Democrat left wingers nor for radical conservative Republican right wingers. As a Independent (Non Partisan Party) I will vote for a good moderate Democrat or for a good moderate Republican. And I do miss Frank Hotchkiss and Dale Francisco on SB city council. I got along very well with both of them.)

Lucky 777 Aug 31, 2022 11:33 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

How discouraging to local police officers to know they can never aspire to the top position, that someone from outside will always be preferred.

ConservativeSB Sep 19, 2022 03:58 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

I know an internal person who applied and interviewed. I do agree with you that the best person should be hired regardless of their origin

doulie Aug 31, 2022 01:37 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

a-1661971263 Aug 31, 2022 11:41 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

and what proof or facts do you have than anyone on current SBPD applied? none, but that doesn't stop some from making baseless accusations.

As a prior commenter said- hire the best person. I wouldn't want to work some place where the best person for the job wasn't hired.

a-1661960317 Aug 31, 2022 08:38 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

I wonder why it took the City so long to recruit and hire this new Chief. Luhnow retired over a year and a half ago and they knew Melekian was only going to be in the job as Interim Chief for a short time. But still they didn't act within that year and a half and had to appoint Marylinda Arroyo as another interim chief while they were still making the permanent selection. That doesn't engender confidence in the City's leadership team.

doulie Aug 31, 2022 10:42 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

This was the schedule of an executive search business believed to apply to our search for a chief:

Search Schedule
Filing Deadline: ............................................................. April 22, 2022
Preliminary Interviews: ..................................... April 25 – May 6, 2022
Recommendation of Candidates: ......................................May 12, 2022
Preliminary Interview Process: ........ May 19 and May 20, 2022 (virtual)
Finalist Interviews
and candidate site visit: ............................To Be Determined (in person)
These dates have been confirmed, and it is recommended
that you plan your calendar accordingly.

Not confirmed.

a-1661962617 Aug 31, 2022 09:16 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

I think it took longer because the city administrator retired and we had an acting city administrator (until she was appointed as no longer interim), so since it is city administrator's job to hire police chief, city wanted to wait until they knew who the city administrator was. believe they had to re-open application process and timeline.

Also, Chief Melekian only wanted to stay in job a few months, certainly not as long as he did.

Gimli Aug 31, 2022 08:19 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Well . . . I do wish her the best in running the SBPD. But will those police officers will be satisfied the way she will run the police department? I did meet and spoke with former Police Chief Lori Luhnow when she came on aboard and she was nice and very pleasant person. But (and a "Bigly BUT") I met someone who worked as a 911 operator (has been retired before COVID) and told me that many of the police officers did not like Lori Luhnow when she was the Police Chief SBPD. So time will tell how she will run the SBPD department. I do hope she will create a "Strike Team" like in the 7 season TV series of 'The Shield'. SB needs that kind of police detectives to rid of the crime here. Even if they have to use dirty tactics to get it done, and everyone just looks the other way. Wishful thinking on my end.

a-1663627604 Sep 19, 2022 03:46 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Oh GIMLI... You judge the chief of police based on some second-hand gossip? And you think the PD should be run like the PD on a TV show? Oh, oh my. Let's use our logical brains here.

ChillinGrillin Aug 31, 2022 02:22 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Yeah bud, I'm sure running the PD based on a TV show would be the best idea. And "dirty tactics" could never ever have long term consequences. Very bigly. Lmfao

toot Aug 31, 2022 01:51 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

" SB needs that kind of police detectives to rid of the crime here. Even if they have to use dirty tactics to get it done, and everyone just looks the other way. "

Then why waste millions of dollars on a police dept? Just hire out hitmen from NY, Chicago or Miami Mafia Inc. They could so terrorize the community that no one would even dream of wrongdoing.

a-1661958446 Aug 31, 2022 08:07 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

Gary Mussell Aug 31, 2022 07:53 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

None of you gripers mention who it is you were rooting for from the ranks. Did you have a favorite passed over, or are you just upset they found a woman to do the job?

doulie Aug 31, 2022 01:18 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

RHS Aug 31, 2022 11:41 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Trying to turn criticism of a personnel action into evidence of sexism is pathetic. Those who want to see people promoted from within are not speaking to anything except the idea that we have known and trained in house people who would be less expensive to keep on board. These people also know our town, there is almost in Monterey Park that transfers to Santa Barbara.

biguglystick Aug 31, 2022 10:40 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

I'm happy that it's a woman, but I really don't like the police. Corruption is rampant and I, a law abiding citizen, avoid them like the PLAGUE. It's an above ground mafia, and they all think they are above the law. I AM glad it's a woman though. Perhaps she will bring change.

salsa guy Aug 31, 2022 07:43 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

haskelslocal Aug 31, 2022 07:11 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

gizmo1 Aug 31, 2022 05:52 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

How long of a contract does she have 2 7/8 of a year and then she will retire ?did she bring any of her people with her to run the pot dispensary license distribution program?

doulie Aug 30, 2022 10:49 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

Gregoreo Aug 30, 2022 08:11 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Is every higher ranking officer under investigation for corruption, or not interested in the job? Promote from within

Transparent Aug 30, 2022 06:56 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

RHS Aug 30, 2022 06:21 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

nicoyaspa Aug 31, 2022 11:35 AM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

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.

RHS Aug 30, 2022 06:25 PM
New Santa Barbara Police Chief Sworn In

Nico--you don't need "the best person" for this job. You just need a competent person to do what is not rocket science. If we were building a mile high apartment or sending folks outside the galaxy or doing other extremely rare and boundary pushing things, yes, hire the best you can find. Otherwise we should assume that the next in line in the SBPD was perfectly capable of moving the department on in a fair and orderly way.

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