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Sanchez Still Awaiting San Bernardino’s Final Call for Police Chief Job

Santa Barbara police chief one of two finalists but mum's the word for now

The city of San Bernardino has narrowed its finalists for a new police chief to two candidates, including Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez, but a decision has not yet been made on who will be the Inland Empire community’s top cop.

Sanchez informed members of his department last week that he is being considered for the position of chief of the San Bernardino Police Department.

Sanchez reportedly did not apply for the job, but was solicited for the position by San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris, who is being assisted in the recruitment process by Bob Murray & Associates, a national executive search firm.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, Morris’ two finalists are Sanchez and Phoenix police Cmdr. Robert Handy. Under the San Bernardino City Charter, whomever Morris appoints will be subject to City Council approval.

San Bernardino is looking for a successor for Police Chief Keith Kilmer, who announced his intention to retire in March. The San Bernardino police force has 300 sworn officers covering the city of 210,000 residents in the southwestern corner of San Bernardino County.

Sanchez makes $194,000 annually as chief of the 142-officer Santa Barbara police force, and the San Bernardino job would mean a nearly $20,000 salary increase, to $213,000. The pay raise would be even higher for Handy, who makes $128,000 in Phoenix.

Eric Beecher, president of the Santa Barbara Police Officers Association, said the union was caught by surprise by the news. He said officers found out about the job search via an email.

“Ultimately, I think the chief needs to do what is best for him,” Beecher told Noozhawk. “I have not been able to meet with him to talk about it, so I don’t know what his intentions are or how this will affect our department at the moment.”

Calls to Sanchez and Bob Murray & Associates were not returned last week.

Sanchez, who was hired as Santa Barbara’s police chief in 2000, currently is grappling with the investigation of alleged embezzlement by the department’s longtime business manager. Karen Flores, a 22-year civilian employee, was arrested Aug. 5 on suspicion of embezzling more than $100,000 from the parking citation system. Search warrant documents show the theft could total more than $700,000.

Prior to his Santa Barbara post, Sanchez served as chief of the San Rafael Police Department and he is a 13-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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