SANTA MARIA, Calif.- New interim Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin was introduced to the Santa Maria City Council Tuesday night, but not before he spent his first full day on the job dealing with his first real emergency.
Ralph Martin has spent more than 35 years in law enforcement all with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. He spent his first full day as interim Santa Maria Police Chief overseeing the evacuation of police headquarters due to a bomb scare.
Interim Chief Martin was introduced to the Santa Maria City Council with a loud round of applause and after having spent a long first day on the job.
"My first goal is to enhance the stability of the department", Martin told the City Council and a less than half-full council chambers.
Chief Martin comes to Santa Maria Police as a retired commander from the L. A. County Sheriff's Department, confident he can help steer the SMPD out of what's been one of the most turbulent periods in the history of the department.
"Today I had a three hour staff meeting with the commanders and lieutenants, it went fairly well, I laid down some areas where I think we can look at," Martin told the City Council, "which brings me to my second goal which is to enhance the concept of law enforcement risk management for this agency, that is to seek the safest way of doing business and to conserve our precious resources which are our personnel and our fiscal area."
Chief Martin takes over the SMPD helm on a temporary basis while the city conducts a nationwide search for a new police chief to replace former Chief Dan Macagni who retired last week after 37 years with the department and after he was suddenly placed on paid administrative leave by City Manager Rick Haydon without explanation.
The last 8 months have seen a string of deadly officer involved shootings in Santa Maria including the shooting death of on-duty police officer Albert Covarrubias Jr. by a fellow officer last January.
"He was a tough cop", said local resident Ernest Armenta, one of just a few speakers at the City Council meeting, "he had the position that if you were involved in hanky panky and you were involved in tarnishing that badge, you were out."
The Santa Maria City Council approved a zoning change for the planned new SMPD headquarters over on West Betteravia Road near Blosser Road. If everything goes according to plan, the SMPD could be moving into their new headquarters within two years.
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:14 PM EDT2013-05-19 03:14:07 GMT
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