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Interim Santa Maria Police Chief Wants to Keep the Job

Ralph Martin
Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin has made it official; he wants to remain Santa Maria’s top cop.

Martin, who took over in August as the city’s interim police chief, has put his name in for the permanent post.

A retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander who replaced longtime, controversial Chief Danny Macagni, Martin told Noozhawk that he applied for the permanent spot this week before the application deadline, which was 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Now, Martin said, he hopes he’ll be selected through the city’s nationwide search to extend what was supposed to be a six-month stay in a department that has experienced public scrutiny and internal turmoil in recent months.

“I did apply for the job, and I have no idea who else did, but I’m sure there will be a number of other qualified candidates,” Martin said. “I just feel that I can make a difference. Some of the processes and changes in policy that I put in place I’d like to see continue. I think the cultural change is going to take about two years.“

Martin, 61, came out of a three-year retirement in August, leaving his wife and some of his six grown children who live in Orange County.

Last week, Martin said he was still on the fence about applying for the permanent job in a department that he has completely restructured in this three months as interim chief.

City Manager Rick Haydon has said that if Martin applies, he wouldn’t be given any advantage over other candidates.

Alicia Lara, deputy city manager in charge of the chief search, said this week that the city would not be releasing any names of applicants until a finalist has accepted the job.

She said she couldn’t say how many people applied, but the application website has had more than 1,400 hits. Invitations for interviews will be sent out next week, Lara said, with a permanent chief expected to be appointed by February.

Martin said he has enjoyed his time in Santa Maria and understands that he needs to go through the same application process as everyone else.

“It’s been an honor to be an interim chief,” he said. “If the city decides to go with someone else, I will certainly understand and assist that person as needed. I’m really happy with the openness of the department for this change. The communication between the community and Police Department has drastically changed.”

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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