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Friday, December 14 , 2018, 6:38 pm | Fair 58º


Santa Barbara County Sheriff Hires New Undersheriff

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown has tapped someone outside the department — a law enforcement consultant who lives locally — to become his new undersheriff.

Bernard “Barney” Melekian, 65, will take over the permanent post Jan. 5 after a swearing-in ceremony, assuming the current role of Acting Undersheriff Don Patterson, who officially retired earlier this month but will stay on until Melekian starts work.

The sheriff made the announcement Monday, touting Melekian’s many years of public service at the local and federal level, including a short stint locally with the sheriff’s department from 1976 to 1977.

Melekian, who lives in Santa Barbara with wife, Nancy, is currently under contract doing consulting work for the City of Seattle through Dec. 31, according to sheriff’s spokeswoman Kelly Hoover.

Bernard "Barney" Melekian starts work as the Santa Barbara County Undersheriff on Jan. 5. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office photo)

"I have been very blessed to have spent my life working in a profession that I love," Melekian said in a statement. "I am grateful to Sheriff Brown for affording me the opportunity to continue to serve.  I look forward to working with the residents of Santa Barbara County and the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office."

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.

After a year with Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department, Melekian returned to Santa Monica police, serving as a patrol officer, detective, K-9 officer and on the communications and SWAT teams.

He rose through the ranks there up to assistant chief — earning the Medal of Courage and the Medal of Valor — before he was selected as chief of police for the City of Pasadena, where he stayed 13 years and spearheaded a successful gang violence prevention program. 

In 2009, the U.S. Attorney General selected Melekian to lead the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, which provides grants, training and assistance to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

He left that job to begin consulting last year, working with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and for police departments in Chicago, Baltimore and Seattle.

“Barney Melekian is a nationally recognized law enforcement professional with a history of achieving success, building trust and making a difference wherever he has served,” Brown said in a statement Monday. “He is exceptionally bright and hard working. I can think of no one who is better respected in the law enforcement profession. I am delighted he will be joining our agency and look forward to working with him as my undersheriff.”

Melekian's salary and compensation information were not immediately available, according to the county human resources department.

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.

He’s a past president of the California Police Chiefs Association, U.S. Coast Guard Reserve retiree, and a current board member/commissioner for the national Police Foundation, the State of California’s Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, the City of Santa Barbara’s Police & Fire Commission, and the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. 

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.

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