Santa Barbara Police Chief Melekian Receives National Leadership Award

Santa Barbara Police Chief Melekian Receives National Leadership Award title=
Chief Melekian (courtesy photo)
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Source: Santa Barbara Police Department

[On] September 22, 2021, Chief Bernard “Barney” Melekian was honored with the annual Police Executive Research Forum’s (PERF) Leadership Award. This award was bestowed upon Chief Melekian during the annual PERF Town Hall, which coincides with the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference.

The Police Executive Research Forum is a nonprofit organization and specializes in research, policy organization, and is a provider of management services and executive level education to support law enforcement agencies. PERF helps to improve the delivery of police services through the exercise of strong national leadership, public debate of police and criminal justice issues, as well as research and policy development. 

PERF’s Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of law enforcement over the course of their entire career. The PERF Leadership Award recognizes an individual who exemplifies the highest principals and standards of a true leader in policing on a national level. The award recognizes innovators whose efforts serve as a model to the law enforcement community and whose vision of policing can be applied on a wide scale.

Law Enforcement leaders from across the nation submitted nominations and voted for Chief Melekian to receive the award.  Former Tempe Arizona Police Chief Sylvia Moir and Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown submitted nominations for Chief Melekian. 

Many of Chief Melekian’s contributions and accomplishments, which included his military service and doctorate degree, were highlighted during the ceremony. Chief Melekian was selected by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009, to head the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS).  Chief Moir said, “Under Barney, COPS became a true partner to police chiefs and a problem solver.” While the Director of COPS, Chief Melekian created the Collaborative Reform Model, which provides reforms and assistance to law enforcement agencies which best suit their local community needs. Some of the assistance offered includes community engagement, crisis intervention, procedural justice, focused deterrence, and youth engagement, to name a few. Assistance to agencies comes in a variety of forms including analysis, strategic planning, training, and peer-to-peer consultation. COPS helps law enforcement agencies implement reform in a matter of months. Numerous law enforcement agencies around the nation have engaged in collaborative reform with the COPS Office over the last decade.

When he was the Pasadena Police Chief, Chief Melekian implemented a program for the city in 1996 called, “No More Dead Children”. Pasadena had averaged over 20 murders per year for several decades. Most of the victims were young men of color. Under Chief Melekian’s program, Pasadena had 30 consecutive months with zero homicides.  This program was nationally recognized by PERF. Chief Melekian has also served on the Board of Directors of the National Police Foundation since 2014 and served as the Chair from 2017 until earlier this year. The National Police Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing policing through innovation and science. “Under his leadership the foundation is thriving and doing cutting edge work,” said Chief Moir.

Current PERF President and Commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, Michael S. Harrison, said, “Congratulations to Barney Melekian, his body of work has far transcended any one department. There was a unanimous decision of the PERF Board of Directors and without second thought, the most deserving person for this award was Barney Melekian.”  

Chief Melekian stated, “I love this job and, I love the men and women who do it. In every jurisdiction where I have worked, including Santa Barbara, I find people who do this work with the noblest of intentions. What means the most to me about policing, is that every day regardless of your rank or assignment, you get to come to work and make a difference in the lives of everybody with whom you come into contact.  If I was 50 years younger, but I knew everything that was going to happen during the upcoming 50 years, I would do this job again in a heartbeat. I am so grateful to the PERF, PERF Board, and Chuck Wexler (Executive Director, PERF), for this leadership award. It means more to me than you can know.”

PERF Executive Director, Chuck Wexler, concluded the ceremony by stating, “Barney you have left us in a perfect place, very inspiring, and you deserve it. You have made a difference in every position you have ever been in. Thank you and congratulations to you.”

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