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Local News

New Santa Barbara County Undersheriff Sworn Into Office

Bernard Melekian starts work after being appointed to the No. 2 spot in the Sheriff's Department

Sheriff Bill Brown appointed new Undersheriff Bernard Melekian, right, to serve as a member of the department’s law enforcement leadership.
Sheriff Bill Brown appointed new Undersheriff Bernard Melekian, right, to serve as a member of the department’s law enforcement leadership.  (Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department photo)

Santa Barbara County’s newest top lawman was sworn into office Monday.

Bernard “Barney” Melekian, 65, was sworn in as the new undersheriff, and as No. 2 in command, Melekian will be responsible for day-to-day operations of the department and serve as the stand-in for Sheriff Bill Brown in his absence.

Brown announced the appointment would be made from outside the Sheriff’s Department last November, citing Melekian’s wealth of experience in the field.

Melekian, who lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Nancy, was under contract doing consulting work for the City of Seattle until Jan. 1.

“I am grateful to join the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and to work with such a respected organization, especially during these challenging times,” he said during Monday's ceremony. “The real work of law enforcement is done by the men and women who directly serve the people of this county. I look forward to helping them with their work as we achieve the goals laid out by Sheriff Brown.”

Melekian’s wife pinned his new badge onto his uniform, and his son and stepson pinned on accompanying undersheriff stars.

Bernard Melekian and his wife, Nancy, live in Santa Barbara. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department photo)

More than 100 people attended the ceremony at the Santa Barbara County sheriff’s training facility in Santa Barbara, including local dignitaries and law enforcement personnel, sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover said. 

Much of Melekian’s law enforcement resume includes posts in Southern California, where his career began in the Santa Monica Police Department in 1973 after four years in the U.S. Army.

He served one year with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department before heading back to Santa Monica police. Melekian also served as chief of police for the City of Pasadena and led the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office before going into consulting.

Melekian, a father of six grown children, earned his doctorate in policy, planning and development from USC and a public administration master’s degree from Cal State University, Northridge.

In a statement Monday, Brown reiterated confidence in his new undersheriff.

“Barney’s impeccable credentials, diverse experience, proven track record and unrivaled work ethic make him an ideal choice for this important position,” he said. “I am delighted that he will be continuing his public service career as a key member of our agency’s executive staff.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff 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.

Undersheriff Bernard Melekian gets some help with his new insignia from his stepson, Scott Chapman, and his son, Brian Melekian. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department photo)

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