Santa Barbara Police Chief Bernard “Barney” Melekian has been honored with the Police Executive Research Forum’s annual Leadership Award for his contributions to law enforcement over the course of his career.
Chief Melekian received the award during the PERF Town Hall on Wednesday. He received multiple nominations for the award from numerous law enforcement officials across the country, including Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown and former Tempe Arizona Police Chief Sylvia Moir.
Chief Melekian’s various career accomplishments were highlighted during Wednesday’s ceremony.
Speakers pointed to his appointment by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2009 to head the U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office, as well as his accomplishments as the police chief in Pasadena.
According to a news release, as the director of COPS, Chief Melekian developed a Collaborative Reform Model, which “provides reforms and assistance to law enforcement agencies which best suit their local community needs.”
In addition, Chief Melekian started a program in Pasadena called “No More Dead Children,” which came after the chief noticed the city averaged 20 murders a year for several decades. Under this program, Pasadena saw 30 consecutive months with zero homicides, and the program was nationally recognized by PERF, according to the news release.
“I love this job, and I love the men and women who do it,” Chief Melekian said in a statement. “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,” he added. “I am so grateful to the PERF, PERF Board, and Chuck Wexler (executive director of PERF), for this leadership award. It means more to me than you can know.”
Michael Harrison, the current PERF president and commissioner of the Baltimore Police Department, issued congratulations to Chief Melekian on Wednesday, saying “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,” Mr. Harrison said.