California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 21

The Santa Maria Police Department has nearly 130 sworn officers , 51 professional staff , and 8 volunteers . ( Photography by Reflections Photography , 2015 )
At the time the Santa Maria Police moved into their original facility in 1953 , the city ’ s population was about 15,000 people and the department consisted of 25 sworn and professional staff employees . Little did city and police officials know that once the new 12,000 square foot , state of the art facility would remain the home of the Santa Maria Police Department for over half a century .
Over a span of nearly 60 years , the city grew to over 23 square miles , with a population over 104,000 residents . The original 25-person department has now grown to approximately 180 personnel . In an attempt to keep up with the department ’ s growth throughout the years , several make-do building modifications and additions were built . In 2008 the decision was made to locate a new facility , and so the City of Santa Maria purchased a previously occupied building for $ 13.1 million .
In 2012 , Chief Ralph Martin was hired and immediately saw the need of both organizational and philosophical change . Chief Martin garnered support from the community , city council , city administration , and within the agency to make those changes . The most significant changes included a renewed investment in the new police facility , a return to community based policing , and major policy updates .
Some of the notable changes included : increasing the line-level sworn staff from just over 100 to 128 , with a goal of 135 in the next two years . Increasing supervision from 11 sergeants to 18 and from 4 lieutenants to 6 . The department ’ s entire fleet consisted of aged vehicles and a logo that represented the past . With direct input from the police department staff , a new fleet was selected along with a new department logo .
Santa Maria ’ s new facility features : secured holding facilities , a spacious evidence room to meet the department ' s needs for years to come , and a modern crime lab . “ This new facility is a physical representation of our modern and professional Police Department ,” said Chief Martin . “ We have a great mix of experienced officers and support staff , and dynamic new officers and support staff , who are forward-thinking and who are proud to serve .”
Assisting Chief Martin with this new direction was the overwhelming support for the police department from its community , media , city council , and one person in particular ; City Manager Rick Haydon . From the onset , Mr . Haydon stated that his goal all along was to provide the officers with the tools they need to succeed .
Teamwork , community support and dedication to public service has landed Santa Maria PD right in the HEART
of their ever-supportive city . ■
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