Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

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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.

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a-1614706879 Mar 02, 2021 09:41 AM
Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

Good Lord! How many pensions is this guy going to collect? Pasadena, SB Sheriff's, County of Santa Barbara, and now SB Police???? Retire already so we can cash you out.

doulie Mar 02, 2021 09:41 AM
Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

No disrespect to Chief Melekian, especially with his credentials, but why didn't the PD have someone prepared to assume the interim Police Chief position? What would have happened if the former chief needed to take an extended leave? Would the position have been "covered" by an interim chief, a person outside the department?

PitMix Mar 02, 2021 11:16 AM
Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

Luhnow's frequent absences were covered by the Captains, something they were unhappy about. This gives the Captains an equal chance at the position, something that wouldn't have happened if one of them was interim.

doulie Mar 02, 2021 11:35 AM
Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

The City/PD should have placed the senior captain in the position. If they didn't want it move down to the next captain. No matter their assignment during a testing cycle each have as much chance as the other to compete for the position. Simply because one captain was placed in the interim position does not guarantee they will prevail at the end of the examination process.

PitMix Mar 02, 2021 01:27 PM
Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

Really hard for other candidates to beat the person doing the interim job unless they are doing a crappy job. That's how they roll in the government world. Look at how Bjork has done with her interim positions and now she is the 2nd most powerful person in City government.

CoastWatch Mar 02, 2021 02:45 PM
Santa Barbara City Swears In Interim Police Chief

@ SEABIRD- What would be nice, is if they put someone within the Dept like an Acting Chief / Captain until the process was over with... As far as being "rude", I am sure the Cops are not as WOKE as you and would probably use stronger adjectives then "Father Time".... LOL!

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