Ralph Martin

Ralph Martin

Interim Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin was among the six candidates who interviewed for the permanent position Thursday.

City Manager Rick Haydon confirmed Friday that Martin made the first cut in the search process, along with five other candidates from outside the Central Coast.

Martin, who took over in August as the city’s interim police chief, told Noozhawk earlier this month that he put his name in for the permanent post to help continue positive change in a department that has experienced public scrutiny and internal turmoil in recent months.

Martin, a retired Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander, replaced longtime, controversial Chief Danny Macagni in what was supposed to be a six-month stay.

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.

Haydon said Friday that two panels — one made up of police chiefs and city managers and the other community members and business leaders — spent a full day interviewing candidates Thursday at the Santa Maria Inn.

Besides Martin, all the candidates traveled from Southern California or the San Joaquin Valley, Haydon said.

“We were extremely pleased with the caliber of the candidates that we interviewed,” he said. “We’re looking forward to the next step. We are summarizing all the responses we got. I’m shooting to hopefully have a decision by the middle part of December.”

Haydon said now he will look at the top candidates and call them in for further interviews next week.

He has previously said that Martin won’t be given any advantage over other candidates.

On Friday, Martin said he was just honored to be interviewed. He shared few details, but said he had not been contacted since the interview Thursday.

“It’s an honor to be a part of that process,” he said. “I’m sure they had a number of candidates. They will make their decision. I’d really like to continue what I started.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at gpotthoff@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.