Sheriff Bill Brown’s next second-in-command will be Bernard “Barney” Melekian, an Army veteran, former police chief, and law enforcement consultant who sits on several regional boards and lives in Santa Barbara. Melekian, taking over for retiring Undersheriff and department veteran Don Patterson, will assume the position on January 5.
“He is exceptionally bright and hardworking. I can think of no one who is better respected in the law enforcement profession,” said Brown in a prepared statement. “I am delighted he will be joining our agency and look forward to working with him as my undersheriff.”
After serving in the Army from 1967 to 1970, Melekian worked for the Santa Monica Police Department for a short period of time before briefly transferring to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. He soon returned to Santa Monica, where he was honored with the Medal of Courage and the Medal of Valor. From 1996 to 2009, he lead the City of Pasadena’s police department as Chief of Police, spearheading programs aimed at reducing gang violence and seeing the homicide rate drop 70 percent.
In 2009, Melekian was appointed to head the federal Department of Justice’s Community Oriented Policing Services program. Since 2013, he has provided law enforcement consultation for various jurisdictions, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the police departments for the cities of Chicago, Baltimore, and Seattle; he will hold his Seattle post until the end of the year. A 25-year member of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve until 2009, Melekian also brings with him to his new role a PhD in policy, planning, and development from the University of Southern California.