Bernard Melekian is the Interim Police Chief for the Santa Barbara Police Department. He has served in that role since March 1, 2021. Prior to he served as the Undersheriff for Santa Barbara County from January 2015 until September 2018. He then served as the County Executive Officer over Public safety until March 1, 2021 when he assumed the interim Chief of Police role.
He has 36 years of local law enforcement experience, including serving as the Police Chief for the city of Pasadena for 13 years. He also served with the Santa Monica Police Department for 23 years where he was awarded the Medal of Valor in 1978 and the Medal of Courage in 1980. He was selected as the Director of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) by Attorney General Eric Holder, serving from 2009-2013.
He is a nationally recognized expert in police practices, with specific experience in achieving collaborative change in the culture of law enforcement organizations. His doctoral work on Values-Based Discipline in Law Enforcement Organizations received the Sol Price Award as the outstanding doctoral project of 2012 in the School of Policy, Planning and Development by the University of Southern California.
Dr. Melekian served in the United States Army from 1967 to 1970 and in the Coast Guard reserve from 1984-to 2009.
The Office of the Chief of Police has 42 personnel assigned, both sworn and non-sworn, and is composed of two sections: Chief's Staff and Support Services Division.
The Chief’s Staff Section is comprised of the Chief and her assistants. They develop and review policy and procedures providing direction for the maximization of the total law enforcement effort.
Chief of Police: Leads the Department operating under the philosophy of Community Oriented Policing.
Chief's Executive Assistant: Provides staff support and is Secretary to the Fire & Police Commission.
Public Information Officer: The official spokesperson for the Department handles and coordinates all media involvement.
Professional Standards: The Inspection and Control Sergeant conducts personnel complaint investigations, internal audits, and assists in the defense of police civil litigation cases.
The Business Office provides the department with budgetary, payroll, purchasing, and personnel functions.
The Parking Section staff processes parking citation payments and vehicle releases at the Public counter.