SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The new Santa Maria Police Chief is bringing more than 30 years of police experience with him as he settles in his new role.
Chief Phil Hansen has worked with the Santa Maria Police Department as a Commander for four years.
He says he's helped to rebuild the department’s swat team and work closely with officers to implement new policies and procedures.
It’s a big responsibility Chief Hansen says he’s humbled by.
"It’s something I take very seriously, it’s not something to get gitty about, it’s more something to concentrate and focus on,” he says about his new role.
Chief Hansen is now leading a city that has about 120 officers.
"Policing is known to be slow to change and I want to work on that, we want to work on that at accepting change,” he says.
As the Santa Maria community continues to grow in size, he says it’s important to engage with the people they help to protect and serve.
"I’m sworn to protect the people of this community, regardless of nationality, regardless of the language they speak,” he adds.
Before joining the Santa Maria Police Department, Chief Hansen spent more than 30 years working with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
He says he brought his experience with tactical operations and SWAT management here to Santa Maria.
"We recognized that there was an organized evil opponent that we had to deal with so we formed an organization to deal with that problem,” says Chief Hansen.
He is referring to the wave of violence that plagued Santa Maria in 2015 and early 2016.
Chief Hansen says he worked closely with the department on Operation Matador arresting alleged MS 13 gang members suspecting of killing people.
"Law enforcement is a team, it has to have a team approach,” says Chief Hansen.
He says when it comes to fighting crime, officers will work to protect everyone in the community.
"This isn’t a cop out I don’t get involved in the immigration fray because our police officers aren’t concerned with that. They are concerned with arresting suspects, helping victims and we don’t put tags on them whether they are from a different country or speak a different language,” he says.
Chief Hansen will be sworn in as the new chief on Tuesday night at the Santa Maria City Council meeting.