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Chief Barney Melekian
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Chief Bernard Melekian Retirement Announcement

Authored on
July 11, 2022

After 50 years of distinguished public service, Chief Barney Melekian will step down as the Santa Barbara Police Department Interim Police Chief on Friday, July 15th.  Chief Melekian was appointed as the Interim Police Chief on March 1, 2021. He helped guide the department through the COVID-19 masking and vaccination issues, the development of the police oversight ordinance and responding to staffing and budgetary challenges.

“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, “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.”

Santa Barbara City Administrator Rebecca Bjork said, “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.”

Chief Barney Melekian’s 50 years of distinguished service include 23 years with the Santa Monica Police Department where he was awarded the Medal of Valor and the Medal of Courage, 13 years as the Police Chief in Pasadena which included 6 months as the acting Fire Chief and 10 months as the acting City Manager. He served as the Director of the Community Oriented Policing Services Office (COPS) in the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Undersheriff for Santa Barbara County, Assistant County Executive Officer and, most recently, Interim Police Chief with the Santa Barbara Police Department. In September of 2021, he was awarded the prestigious Police Executive Research Forum’s Leadership Award acknowledging a career of contributions to American Law Enforcement.  Chief Melekian served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1970 and in the Coast Guard Reserves from 1984 to 2009.

Throughout his distinguished career, Chief 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.

The Chief and his wife, Nancy, have called Santa Barbara home for ten years and will continue to be part of the community.

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Sgt. Ethan Ragsdale
Police
Communications Sergeant - Public Information Officer