SANTA MARIA - One of the busier areas in Santa Maria for police calls is North Broadway where small business owners say they've come face to face with a rise in crime.
"I recently had an incident where I almost got murdered", says North Broadway property owner and businessman Carlos Torres, "I almost got run-over by someone trying to rob my business."
Torres says rather than hiring more police officers, he'd like to see the new police chief improve efficiency in the department.
"It doesn't make any sense of having 300 police people if they are not doing their job", Torres says, "we need the people there to be more efficient."
Others in Santa Maria say the new chief needs to rebuild trust with the community.
"If that's not there then it doesn't matter who the police chief is", says former City Councilwoman and Hispanic community activist Hilda Zacarias, "we're not going to have the community we all want here in Santa Maria."
The City of Santa Maria is currently accepting applications for the position of Chief of Police in a nationwide recruitment that ends on November 14.
Zacarias is counting on public participation in the final selection process.
"What will happen is authentic, all the way through the hiring process", Zacarias says, "that we have community panel representatives that are really representative, that we have hard questions that come from the community."
Others hope the new police chief has law enforcement experience in large Hispanic communities and can speak Spanish.
"Someone who understands the Hispanic culture", adds Carlos Torres.
Interim Chief of Police Ralph Martin was hired by the city last summer to temporarily fill the vacancy created when former Police Chief Dan Macagni resigned after being placed on administrative leave.
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