The city of Santa Barbara is seeking community members’ input as it searches for its next police chief, who will be appointed by City Administrator Paul Casey.
Ralph Andersen & Associates, a third-party firm hired by the city, is conducting a confidential survey as it kicks off the recruitment process.
Currently, Bernard Melekian is serving as the interim police chief but does not intend to apply for the permanent position.
“I took this position to be of service to the city and the police department,” he told the News-Press Monday. “When they hire a new police chief, I will fade quietly into the sunset.”
Chief Melekian has assisted numerous personnel searches throughout his career and said a community survey is “not uncommon.”
“I think there’s no question that the selection of the new police chief is one of the most important decisions the city manager will make,” he said.
The community’s responses will help Ralph Andersen & Associates look for candidates.
“It really helps the search firm define the parameters,” Chief Melekian said. “They have to create not just a job description but a broader description of what the community is looking for.”
He said the community description will weed out bad candidates.
The survey asks citizens to describe what they hope to be the next chief’s top priorities and identify the biggest challenges the chief will face.
It also asks for qualities residents would like to see in the new chief and what opportunities people would like the new hire to take on.
And the survey asks for general feedback about the police department as a whole.
Although it’s a short survey, Chief Melekian anticipates that it is “the first step in what will be a long process.”
He predicted that more community perspectives will be gathered in meetings. He’s not sure how long the process will take, but he’s “hopeful it will be about six months.”