Allan Hancock College board of trustees
The Allan Hancock College board of trustees on Tuesday night approved the hiring of Cathy Farley as the new police chief for the Santa Maria-based community college. She currently serves as assistant chief of the UCSB Police Department.
Cathy Farley

Cathy Farley

After several failed searches, Allan Hancock College has found its new police chief just down the road.

Cathy Farley has been chosen as the police chief for the Santa Maria-based community college, with the board unanimously approving her hiring Tuesday night.

Farley, currently assistant chief for UCSB Police Department, will begin her new job Nov. 5. Her annual salary will be $131,922.

Board President Hilda Zacarias thanked those involved in the “rather arduous process, but one that I think has really been worth the effort.

“I know that all of you are going to welcome her and her leadership to our entire campus. We’re looking forward to her being with us for a long time.”

Farley did not attend Tuesday night’s meeting due to a prior commitment, Superintendent/CEO Kevin Walthers said. 

“We’re excited about her coming. She’s a great member of the community and her kids are actually graduates (of Hancock College),” Walthers said. 

Farley received a bachelor of arts from UCSB, and earned a certificate from California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) in basic, intermediate, and advanced management and supervision. 

She also is a graduate of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia.

Farley has been assistant chief of police at UCSB Police Department since July 2012 after rising through the ranks of captain, lieutenant and sergeant. She initially joined the force as a student in the 1980s.

Efforts to fill Hancock’s empty slot started after former police chief Wes Maroney retired in 2015, and included several debates about the department’s future. 

In 2016, the college hired Paul Grohowski, who resigned months later with a severance package of $100,000.

Grohowski’s tenure included a recommendation to disband the Police Department and contract for law enforcement services with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, an action the board has been reluctant to implement.

After Grohowski’s departure, former Cuesta Community College police leader Ronald Schram filled in as interim chief for several months at Hancock.

At the end of a more recent search, one finalist, a sergeant with Santa Maria Police Department, ended up not taking the job due to the impact on his future retirement pay if he switched jobs.

During some of the gaps without a top cop, the community college called upon retired Santa Maria sergeant Chris Nartatez, who also previously served as chief of the Guadalupe Police Department, to fill in as interim chief for the Hancock Police Department.

In recent years, board discussions included whether to the rebuild the Police Department by boosting funding for staffing and equipment or switch to having only campus safety officers. But board members balked at eliminating the sworn police officers, leading to the successful search that ended with Farley’s hiring.

“I’m really looking forward to the fact that she’s going to be shepherding our department through some growth and changes,” said Trustee Dan Hilker, a former UCSB police officer. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

A stylized hawk's head on a red background

Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at