A new but familiar face has been running the Santa Maria Police Department for about two months now.
Chief Marc Schneider, who was a division commander prior to his current role, was appointed to the top job in January 2021.
"You know, growing up in Santa Maria, I think it's nice when you have an opportunity to actually be able to work in the same community,” he told KSBY News reporter Gina Avalos in an exclusive interview this week.
Schneider prides himself on his roots in the community. His time as an officer with the department dates back to 1995 when he began to work his way up through the ranks.
Now, starting in his role as chief, he says he is putting his efforts into creating a three-year strategic plan that will encompass technology, develop new leadership, and tackle mental health issues in the community.
"[We are] finalizing an MOU with Behavioral Wellness, so once that's completed here hopefully within the next several weeks, we will be able to bring in a clinician from Behavioral Wellness to team up with our officer and be proactive with mental health-related calls for service,” he said.
Bringing in someone with expertise as a crime analyst is another goal for the department.
"We see things as police officers so we focus energy and resources at it but we want to make sure that we have some data that supports how we do that,” Schneider said.
When asked how important it is to have a diverse and transparent police department, he says both are also top of his list.
He says the lack of women in the department is something he wants to change.
“I think you always want to have a good balance. You say you want to have people who join the department that represent your community but at the same time you want to have that balance of, you know, female and male officers,” he said.
Over the years, Chief Schneider has been involved in many local groups, including CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation), One805, the Santa Maria Police Council, the Breakfast Rotary Club of Santa Maria, and the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.
He hopes to continue to build partnerships between the department and the community.
"Keeping that in the forefront that let's not take for granted that we have a good relationship with the community, that we make sure we stay focused and try to build and enhance relationships that we already have and make new relationships where maybe we haven't had them previously,” he said.
Chief Schneider also says he’s here to stay and plans to retire in Santa Maria.