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Police Chief to Retire

Post Date:05/03/2017 4:02 PM

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May 3, 2017


City of Santa Maria Police Chief to Retire


Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin has announced that his last day leading the men and women of the Santa Maria Police Department will be on June 23rd. Chief Martin is retiring after a five-year span during which the department was significantly reformed and rebuilt, moved into a state-of-the-art facility, and successfully undertook one of the biggest operations in its history.


“We have a very capable, enthusiastic, professional team in place, with a modern facility and community support,” said Martin, who retires with over 40 years in law enforcement. “I am confident that we have the right personnel, protocols, and organizational structure to ensure the Santa Maria Police Department will maintain its high standards and dedication to protecting the community.”


Martin was hired by City Manager Rick Haydon as the Interim Police Chief on August 6, 2012, following a string of controversial incidents including a number of officer-involved shootings, the tragic death of an on-duty police officer, and the retirement of the former Chief. Four months into the job, Martin was appointed by Haydon as the permanent Chief.


“Chief Martin has been the quintessential change agent for the Police Department and for the City as an organization; his level of professionalism is unmatched. He came to the City knowing that he was taking over a department that was in turmoil, morale was at an all-time low and there was divisiveness within its ranks. He quickly came in, rolled-up his sleeves, and drawing from his extensive years in law enforcement, systematically turned around the department to what it is today – the premier law enforcement agency on the Central Coast,” Haydon said.


Martin set out to completely restructure the department and make major changes to the upper command staff which included removal of upper management.  Today, 90 percent of the department’s total command staff are his appointments. The City Manager commissioned an outside independent audit of the department, and with the support of the City Council, increased the departmental budget and authorized more officers.


“The department I inherited required changes, then healing, then reforms – and we did all of that,” Martin said. “We are healthier. Morale is high. We are engaged and proactive.”


The following are some of the department’s major changes and accomplishments over the past five years that can be directly attributed to Chief Martin’s leadership:

  1. Coordinating with eight other agencies in “Operation Matador”– the most ambitious such operation in the City’s history - which halted a violent crime wave by arresting 17 suspects of multiple homicides; 
  2. Successfully moving into the impressive new Police headquarters. This new facility will serve the community for decades with a modern crime lab, a larger detective bureau, and much more;
  3. Implemented over 50 recommendations by the Office of Independent Review;
  4. Engaged in Town Hall meetings to address community concerns;
  5. A focus on Community Based Policing:  Assignment of three beat coordinators; four school resource officers; bike patrol, and two Citizen Academies each year, the most recent for Spanish speakers;
  6. A complete review and overhaul of the department’s policies and procedures utilizing Lexipol with an emphasis on risk management and best practices;
  7. Added more direct supervision (sergeants) to oversee patrol, detectives, and prisoner bookings (selected and promoted 15 of 17 sergeants and all 6 lieutenants).
  8. Hired 90 new personnel; 68 officers and 22 professional staff;
  9. Increased the number of detectives from five to 15;
  10. Initiated operation Blue Watch – the first public safety video surveillance cameras - now with 29 camera pods placed in strategic locations to enhance public safety;
  11. Assigned 60 collateral duty assignments to all supervisors (3 each) to promote professional growth and succession planning;
  12. Restructured the department into three divisions from the previous two divisions;
  13. Dismantled the SWAT Team in October 2012, and then rebuilt the team one year later;
  14. Made risk management a top priority for the department in order to greatly help mitigate liability exposure;
  15. Instrumental in the supervisors and managers separating from Santa Maria Police Officers Association (SMPOA) to form its own union, removing any conflict of interest;
  16. Implemented a personnel tracking system to capture all incidents and to bring more accountability;
  17. Reduced the City’s inventory of paramilitary equipment acquired from the Federal Government;
  18. Redesigned the police vehicle fleet with new logo;
  19. As part of a youth gang prevention effort, authorized the production of a juvenile gang prevention documentary titled, Life Facing Bars, now used nationwide;
  20. Significantly expanded the training requirements for sworn officers.


“Chief Martin has truly been a godsend to the men and women of the police department, to the City as an organization, and to the community of Santa Maria, and I think we all (collectively) owe him our debt of gratitude for coming here and helping make a difference in our quality of life (from a public safety perspective),” Haydon said.


Questions may be directed to the City Manager’s Office at 925-0951 extension 2372.



Department:                           City Manager’s Office

Contact Person:                     Mark van de Kamp, PIO/Management Analyst II

Telephone Number:                (805) 925-0951 ext. 2372 or 720-4038

E-mail Address:             


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