Santa Maria - North County

Santa Maria police chief set to retire in early summer

Ralph Martin leaving department in late June

Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Santa Maria Police Chief Ralph Martin is set to retire from the police department on June 23, 2017.

Santa Maria city officials made the announcement on Wednesday.

“Chief Martin has been the quintessential change agent for the Police Department and for the City as an organization; his level of professionalism is unmatched. He came to the City knowing that he was taking over a department that was in turmoil, morale was at an all-time low and there was divisiveness within its ranks," stated City Manager Rick Haydon.

Martin was hired as Interim Police Chief in August 2012 following a string of controversial incidents involving the Santa Maria Police Department under Dan Macagni, who despite being accused of illegal activity during his tenure, retired from the police department with a full pension.

"He [Martin] quickly came in, rolled-up his sleeves, and drawing from his extensive years in law enforcement, systematically turned around the department to what it is today – the premier law enforcement agency on the Central Coast,” Haydon said.

“I am confident that we have the right personnel, protocols, and organizational structure to ensure the Santa Maria Police Department will maintain its high standards and dedication to protecting the community,” said Martin in a written statement. “We are healthier. Morale is high. We are engaged and proactive.”


The following are some of the Santa Maria Police Department's major changes under Martin per the City of Santa Maria:

  • Coordinating with eight other agencies in “Operation Matador”– the most ambitious such operation in the City’s history - which halted a violent crime wave by arresting 17 suspects of multiple homicides;
  • Successfully moving into the impressive new Police headquarters. This new facility will serve the community for decades with a modern crime lab, a larger detective bureau, and much more;
  • Implemented over 50 recommendations by the Office of Independent Review;
  • Engaged in Town Hall meetings to address community concerns;
  • A focus on Community Based Policing: Assignment of three beat coordinators; four school resource officers; bike patrol, and two Citizen Academies each year, the most recent for Spanish speakers;
  • A complete review and overhaul of the department’s policies and procedures utilizing Lexipol with an emphasis on risk management and best practices;
  • Added more direct supervision (sergeants) to oversee patrol, detectives, and prisoner bookings (selected and promoted 15 of 17 sergeants and all 6 lieutenants).
  • Hired 90 new personnel; 68 officers and 22 professional staff;
  • Increased the number of detectives from five to 15;
  • Initiated operation Blue Watch – the first public safety video surveillance cameras - now with 29 camera pods placed in strategic locations to enhance public safety;
  • Assigned 60 collateral duty assignments to all supervisors (3 each) to promote professional growth and succession planning;
  • Restructured the department into three divisions from the previous two divisions;
  • Dismantled the SWAT Team in October 2012, and then rebuilt the team one year later;
  • Made risk management a top priority for the department in order to greatly help mitigate liability exposure;
  • Instrumental in the supervisors and managers separating from Santa Maria Police Officers Association (SMPOA) to form its own union, removing any conflict of interest;
  • Implemented a personnel tracking system to capture all incidents and to bring more accountability;
  • Reduced the City’s inventory of paramilitary equipment acquired from the Federal Government;
  • Redesigned the police vehicle fleet with new logo;
  • As part of a youth gang prevention effort, authorized the production of a juvenile gang prevention documentary titled, Life Facing Bars, now used nationwide;
  • Significantly expanded the training requirements for sworn officers.


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