Interim Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin has been named to fill the permanent position, the city announced Monday morning.
City Manager Rick Haydon announced Monday in a news release that Martin was chosen as the finalist after narrowing the search down to two applicants last week.
“The city conducted a thorough recruitment process, we had an excellent candidate pool in which to choose from and were impressed by the caliber of candidates that were interviewed,” Haydon said in the release. “However, at the end of the day, the consensus from both rating panels clearly showed Ralph Martin at the top of the eligibility list.”
Martin, who took over in August as the city’s interim police chief, told Noozhawk earlier this month that he put his name in for the permanent post to help continue positive change in a department that has experienced public scrutiny and internal turmoil in recent months.
Martin made the first cut in the search process earlier this month, along with five other candidates from outside the Central Coast.
Martin, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander, replaced longtime, controversial Chief Danny Macagni in what was supposed to be a six-month stay.
Haydon said Monday that Martin hands-down exhibited all the leadership skills that community members said they desired during two community forums. Martin’s experience with gangs, communication skills, and the high respect he has already received from the community were key deciding factors, Haydon added.
“I look forward to working with Ralph for years to come,” Haydon said.
Martin, 61, came out of a three-year retirement in August, leaving his wife and some of his six grown children who live in Orange County.
“It is an honor for me to have been selected as the permanent police chief for Santa Maria,” Martin said in a statement. “I look forward to the challenges of leading the men and women of this fine department and working closely with city leaders and community groups. I would ask that you (the public) join me and the members of the Santa Maria Police Department in forging a strong working relationship, as we continue to improve our services by providing the best public safety possible for all residents and businesses alike.”
Mayor Larry Lavagnino said Monday that Martin was the best choice for the job.
“I think it’s a great choice,” Lavagnino said. “I think he did a great job. I’m glad that he’s going to stay on.”
Martin is scheduled to be sworn in as the city’s new police chief at the beginning of the Dec. 18 City Council meeting.