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Santa Barbara’s New Police Chief Lori Luhnow Sworn into Office

Luhnow, who worked at the San Diego Police Department for 27 years, started work at SBPD Monday and is the first woman to serve as chief

City Administrator Paul Casey reads an oath of allegiance to swear in new Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow during a ceremony Monday at City Hall.
City Administrator Paul Casey reads an oath of allegiance to swear in new Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow during a ceremony Monday at City Hall.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Lori Luhnow was sworn into office Monday, vowing to uphold the laws of the state and the nation as she officially stepped in to lead the Santa Barbara Police Department as the first woman as chief.

Luhnow took an oath of allegiance during a ceremony at City Hall, vowing to build community trust. 

“The past years of my life have been dedicated to policing,” Luhnow told a packed house.

“My fellow officers and supervisors instilled that community priorities are police priorities. The trust and support we build are essential for the partnerships that lead to a safe community.”

Luhnow said she’d guide her staff with inclusive leadership and teamwork.

“I’ve learned first-hand our employees go above and beyond in their duties,” Luhnow said. “I have been met with openness, honesty and a sincere willingness to assure my transition was successful.”

Luhnow has been with the San Diego Police Department for 27 years, and over that time has overseen its investigations, special operation, patrol and traffic divisions.

Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow’s fiance had the honor of pinning the SBPD badge on her during Monday’s swearing-in ceremony. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Police Chief Lori Luhnow’s fiance had the honor of pinning the SBPD badge on her during Monday’s swearing-in ceremony. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

"She’s a home run hire,” City Administrator Paul Casey said. “Her experience was outstanding and relevant. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious.”

Luhnow, 50, was hired in June to command the staff of 200 sworn and civilian members, after a national recruitment search resulting in 91 qualified applicants. She will manage a $42-million budget.

Casey said city council members narrowed the decision to six well-qualified candidates, yet Luhnow’s background and intangible qualities stood out. 

Luhnow credits her traits to Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger, who previously served 25 years with SDPD. Swanger was Luhnow’s captain on-and-off from 2006-2010.

“Her strengths are with people and solving problems,” Swanger said. “She has that talent of understanding who’s involved and how to address the conditions.” 

Swanger said he picked Luhnow as the director of operations for the San Diego Family Justice Center and she oversaw its Domestic Violence Unit.

“She has no fear,” he said. “She has special leadership skills.”

Luhnow replaces Cam Sanchez, who was SBPD chief for 15 years until he retired in February. 

Luhnow thanked the mayor, members of city council, her supportive family, friends and colleagues for having the confidence in her to lead the organization.

Mayor Helene Schneider, who was out of town, sent a letter that was read during the swearing-in ceremony to welcome Luhnow. 

“The city of Santa Barbara is a special place,” Schneider wrote.

“Our community likes to partake in special occasions and how lucky — you get to experience the city's largest part of the year, Old Spanish Days Fiesta, on the first month of the job.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland 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.

Lori Luhnow took an oath of allegiance during a ceremony at City Hall, vowing to build community trust during her job as Santa Barbara’s new police chief. Click to view larger
Lori Luhnow took an oath of allegiance during a ceremony at City Hall, vowing to build community trust during her job as Santa Barbara’s new police chief. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

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