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Santa Monica Gets Three Chiefs – For Now

By Olin Ericksen
Staff Writer

August 30 -- Hail to the chiefs… all three of them.

In the “interest of fairness,” City Manager Lamont Ewell last week said he plans to rotate three officers bucking for a permanent promotion to the City’s top cop post until he picks a successor to Chief James T. Butts, Jr. who left this month after 16 years to head security at area airports.

Serving one-month each will be Deputy Chief Phillip Sanchez and Captains Jacqueline Seabrooks and Mark Smiley, who have all agreed to keep Santa Monica’s safety the number one goal as they compete with outsiders for the highly paid – and highly influential – position.

“All are in agreement to be supportive of one another to ensure that the interest of the department and the city resident’s remain a top priority,” Ewell said.

While others candidates from outside the department will be in the running, rotating the candidates within the department’s rank and file is the fair way choose.

“There are several… within the department who are desirous of becoming the city’s next chief of police,” Ewell said.

The City manager said he is looking for a chief who is a community oriented, team player with experience in neighborhood policing and an eye towards keeping tourism and the local economy rolling along.

Deputy Chief Sanchez took over the first shift over the weekend and will command Santa Monica’s highly paid, well equipped force over the next 30 days.

According to a biography issued by the department, Sanchez – a 26-year veteran with the Santa Monica Police Department – has both led behind a desk and in the field and “is the first executive to serve as the Deputy Chief of Police in the Department’s history.”

His has served in the offices of Operations, Criminal Investigations and Administrative Services, as well as in the Internal Affairs Division.

But he knows how to handle a gun as well, being credited with developing Santa Monica’s Swat team in 1991.

“The Physiological Effects of Stress in Lethal Environments” and “Critical Incident Memory Loss – Investigating an Officer-Involved Shooting” are two of several articles penned by Sanchez, police said.

Sanchez is also working on the issue of homelessness, injecting a police point of view on several local and regional committees addressing one of the city’s top priorities, according to the police statement.

Taking the reins next month, Captain Mark Smiley has worked for 25 years to protect and serve Santa Monicans.

A highlight in his career came in 1998, when Smiley, then a Lieutenant, reportedly lead a multi-jurisdictional task force of 50 agencies and groups to stymie gang warfare which had erupted in and around Santa Monica, resulting in flurry of shootings and deaths.

Smiley also spent two years as the Commander for the Internal Affairs Division, working directly for the Chief of Police.

Smiley has served in the Office of Criminal Investigations, the Youth Services Division and Forensics.

He currently commands the Office of Operations – the largest of the department’s four offices, with 200 personnel and a budget of more than $26 million.

Smiley is “deeply involved in the homeless challenges that face the City,” the department biography states, and represents first responders at homeless meetings and is part of the Homeless Liaison Program – which provides outreach and enforcement in dealing with the Santa Monica’s homeless.

Working closely with the City’s homeless czar, Ed Edelmen, Smiley has worked to establish a separate court in Santa Monica to connect the homeless, drug-addicted and mentally ill to services, according to police. The $500,000 pilot project is known as “Community Courts.”

Smiley also holds a Bachelor's degree in Public Administration from the University of LaVerne, graduated from POST Command College and the FBI National Academy and has volunteered for several police youth functions, raising money for the Police Activities League.

Serving as Santa Monica’s first female chief of police, Jacqueline Seabrooks will take command around November.

She, too, has a quarter century of police work under her belt, serving both with the California State Police Division and for 23 years with Santa Monica Police.

Seabrooks, who is black and the highest-ranking woman in the Police Department, recently took over as commanding officer of the Office of Criminal Investigations.

She has served the past five years as the commanding officer for the Office of Special Enforcement and the Office of Operations, police said.

She is also responsible for leading a crackdown on recent gang violence in the Pico Neighborhood, known as Operation Safe Streets, police said.

As a result of the operation, police said, ”violent crimes were significantly reduced in and around the Pico Neighborhood.”

With both a Master’s and Bachelor of Science degrees in Public Administration; Seabrooks is a graduate of both the FBI's National Academy and the Senior Management Institute of Police.

Seabrooks trained in cultural competencies and community policing for the men and women of the Santa Monica Police Department as well as other various law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts and Louisiana, according to the department biography.

She is a volunteer mentor and tutor for Santa Monica's youth in her spare time and continues to teach law enforcement-related courses at various area colleges.

While the three candidats rotate at the helm over the next few months, Peckham & McKenney, hired earlier this month for $17,500, plus expenses, will conduct a national search for candidates..

The firm will host three panels of residents, business leaders and three City officials to provide input for the search for the next chief, City officials said. Neighborhood Associations and the Human Relations Commission will also be consulted.

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