Santa Barbara’s interim police chief is stepping down.
The police department says Barney Melekian has helped guide the department through various COVID-19 masking and vaccination issues since being appointed in March of last year. He has also helped with the development of the police oversight ordinance and staff and budgetary challenges for the department.
His last day with the department will be Friday, July 15.
“It has been my privilege to serve the city of Santa Barbara and the men and women of the police department who work tirelessly to keep the city safe.” Melekian said in a press release. “I am truly honored to have been allowed to close out my law enforcement career as Santa Barbara’s Police Chief. I am very grateful to Paul Casey, Rebecca Bjork, and the City of Santa Barbara for allowing me to serve the community in this fashion.”
“I have been honored to work with one of the leading experts in modern policing. We will miss Barney, and he leaves knowing he has moved our local team even closer to being a model for other communities,” said Santa Barbara City Administrator Rebecca Bjork.
Melekian’s career includes 23 years with the Santa Monica Police Department where he was awarded the Medal of Valor and the Medal of Courage. He also spent 13 years in Pasadena where he served at times as police chief, acting fire chief and acting city manager.
Last September, Melekian, an Army veteran, was awarded the prestigious Police Executive Research Forum’s Leadership Award, which acknowledges a career of contributions to American Law Enforcement.
The City says Melekian “has been a mentor and role model to numerous law enforcement professionals. The exceptional leadership and guidance that he has displayed as Chief has been truly appreciated by the men and women of the Santa Barbara Police Department. Chief Melekian brought stability during a difficult and challenging time and his leadership has made an impact that will be felt for years to come,” adding that that Melekian and his wife will continue to be part of the Santa Barbara community.
The police department expects to make an announcement in the coming weeks about a permanent chief.