Santa Barbara appoints new police chief after nearly two years of search

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — The city of Santa Barbara has appointed a new police chief to see more than 200 sworn officers from the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Kelly Ann Gordon was announced as the new police chief on Tuesday, replacing acting police chief Marylinda Arroyo. Arroyo was named acting chief after former acting chief Barney Melekian retired in July.

Melekian was named interim chief on March 1, 2021, following the retirement of former chief Lori Lunhow in February 2021.

Gordon’s role takes effect on September 19.

“I look forward to serving the Santa Barbara community and being part of this incredible team of police professionals and an incredible leadership team,” Gordon said.

“My first priority is to get to know the people of the police service and our community, whether they are residents or businesses. Together, we will work hard to continue to strengthen our collaborative relationships, achieve common goals, and remain committed to keeping our community safe.

Gordon brings 26 years of experience to the Santa Barbara Police Department and most recently served as the Monterey Park Police Chief, where she oversaw a staff of approximately 150 and managed a $23 million budget.

Gordon began his law enforcement career in January 1996 with the Los Angeles Police Department. She served in that department for four years before leaving in 2000 for the Montebello Police Department.

She also worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue Team for over 20 years and was a canine disaster search specialist. His deployments included the World Trade Center after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Ike, and Hurricane Rita.

Gordon holds a bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly Pomona, a master’s degree from Saint Mary’s University, and is a graduate of the National Academy of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute.