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Hancock College Police Chief Resigns After Less Than A Year On Job

The Allan Hancock College police chief has resigned effective July 31 after less than a year on the job and following his recommendation to hire another agency to provide law enforcement services or expand the existing staff dramatically.

Paul Grohowski, who started in September and was sworn in last December, will receive 10 months salary as part of his severance package, college represensentatives said.

The college’s Board of Trustees accepted Grohowki’s resignation Tuesday night.

“On behalf of Allan Hancock College, I would like to thank Paul Grohowski for his dedication and service to the college, our students and staff,” Superintendent/President Kevin G. Walthers said.

“One of his initial duties was to evaluate the college Police Department and recommend how to make the college as safe and secure as possible.  He accomplished those tasks and many others, and we wish him well on his future endeavors.” 

The chief, who received a new contract last month, will receive approximately $100,000 for his severance package.

“It’s not unusual to have severance packages for a management employee at that level,” said Susan Houghton, college spokesperson. 

“This is a very amicable resignation,” she added.

In a series of reviews last year and this year, the chief noted that the Police Department was woefully understaffed and underfunded.

Specifically, he cited inadequate staffing, out-of-date policies and procedures, lack of compliance with training requirements, deficits in equipment, inadequate facilities and ancient technology.

He recommended either contracting with another agency — Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Departemnt — to provide law enforcement services or investing more money to hire additional police officers and boost pay. 

“We just don’t have the capacity to do it right,” Grohowski said, adding that he so strongly believes in his recommendation that he resigned.

He said the college’s primary purpose should be educating students, not public safety like a city or county.

"Our budget should be spent on educating young adults," he added. 

The board on Tuesday night directed staff to launch negations with the California School Employees Association about the future of the campus Police Department and the best way to ensure safety and security of students, staff and facilities, Houghton said. 

“This is a good faith effort on the part of everyone involved to work collaboratively to ensure the decision that happens next is the right decision,” Houghton added.

In addition to the Santa Maria campus, the college also has facilities in the Lompoc Valley plus holds classes in the Santa Ynez Valley and at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

A report on the negotiations could be taken to the board as soon as August.

An interim chief likely will be appointed to oversee the agency once Grohowski leaves.

After his recommendations, Grohowski has come under fire from many staff members within the Police Department.

“Chief Grohowski has made no effort to lead his department members. His lack of leadership and continued hostility toward his officers has crippled the department's morale,” according to an online campaign to keep the Police Department.

The agency has three sworn officers plus a sergeant and a reserve officer. The department also has several non-sworn campus safety officers.

While his tenure was short, Grohowski said he was proud of working with the Department of Homeland Security to conduct an assessment of the campus facilities, with recommendations for security measures, such as improved lighting, added fencing and more.

“I think that work will be lasting long after I leave,” he said.

Grohowksi said Thursday his future plans remain up in the air. 

He has spent more than 20 years in law enforcement, including as police chief at Adams State University in Colorado. He also worked for the Port St. Lucie Police Department in Florida. 

He earned an associate degree in criminal justice from Indian River State College, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Barry University in Miami.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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