SMPD Deputy Chief Phil Sanchez will become Pasadena's new chief in July after spending 29 years with Santa Monica. (photo by City Of Santa Monica)

DOWNTOWN — Deputy Chief Phillip L. Sanchez will become the new police chief of Pasadena, effective July 11, it was announced this week.

Sanchez, a 29-year-veteran of the SMPD, “has a strong background in police management and a reputation as a leader who is sensitive to community issues,” said Pasadena City Manager Michael J. Beck. “I am confident he will be well-received in the Pasadena community and the Pasadena Police Department.”

Pasadena has been looking for a permanent chief since Bernard Melekian, a former Santa Monica cop, retired last November after 13 years on the job.

The interim chief was Chris Vicino.

Sanchez, 53, has spent his entire law enforcement career with the Santa Monica Police Department. Sanchez currently overseas the day-to-day operations of the SMPD and was responsible for coordinating security and planning for the Los Angeles Marathon, which ended in Santa Monica for the first time in the race’s history, bringing tens of thousands of runners and spectators.

He was among the founders of Santa Monica’s Chronic Homeless Project, and also helped develop the city’s Serial Inebriate Outreach Program, designed as an alternative to incarceration for people with alcohol and drug issues.

Sanchez has a master’s degree in security studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey and is a graduate of the FBI National Academy.

Sanchez has received the Santa Monica Police Department’s Medal of Courage twice for heroic actions during tactical operations. He served as the incident commander for several critical incidents, including a hostage situation at the Santa Monica Pier in 2004. He also is the recipient of the department’s Medal of Merit for development of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT). He has been honored as Officer of the Year by the Rotary Club of Santa Monica and the Optimist Club of Santa Monica. 

For the past decade, he has taught at the Orange County Sheriff’s Academy. He recently was selected to serve on an advisory commission that is exploring the development of a course in homeland security for Santa Monica College.

As a youth he was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable with the Boy Scouts of America, and participated in the 1974 Rose Parade carrying a banner that announced the float honored with the Queen’s Trophy.  He remains active in Boy Scouts and has presented the Eagle Scout Award to many young men.

Sanchez, who lives with his wife Deborah in Orange County, has four adult children and three grandchildren. He is an avid bicyclist.

“I have a deep respect for the men and women of the Pasadena Police Department, which has a tremendous reputation in the world of law enforcement,” Sanchez said.

“I also am a strong proponent of community collaboration and integration,” he said. “A police department or police chief cannot improve public safety alone, it requires an entire community working together.”

Sanchez will oversee a police force comprised of 246 sworn officers with a budget of roughly $60 million. The top salary for a chief in Pasadena is just over $212,000.

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